T was to be the sound of Enigma, that would bring Sarah Brightman and Frank Peterson together to create a team that has gone from strength to strength solidly for more than a decade. Frank's inventive re-styling of Sarah's music and image ensured that her popular appeal never waned. Taking us from albums of romantic, sea-swept pop to Sarah's Siren-like voice haunting us across ominous dance soundscapes. However it was to be her classical-crossover guise that would grant Sarah the greatest success, a genre she and Frank helped forge into the popular one it is today. But one of Sarah Brightman's greatest qualities, is her ability to ease into all these disparate performance-roles effortlessly.
:: prelude in America
After her success as a leading stage-musical singer during the 1980s, such as her defining theatrical role as Christine in"The Phantom Of The Opera", Sarah sought a solo career in Los Angeles. Her fame was both a blessing and a curse, as it meant people only knew her from her stage-musical roles, and thus thought of her always in this style. But then Sarah heard the music of Enigma, a project recently released in Europe and enjoying a growing popularity. Its style instantly captivated her and Brightman realised this was the mood she wanted for her music. Her work with the American producers had not managed to reach this same revelation and she expressed a desire to work with someone from Enigma. Thus Sarah travelled to Germany in 1991 to meet Frank Peterson. The two had an immediate synergy in what they were trying to achieve with their music.
:: new beginnings
As a relative unknown in Germany, Sarah could cast off her old image completely and start anew. Peterson, too, was starting from scratch with a new studio being built and fresh off Sadisfaction. So began a long and involved production, as Frank and Sarah experimented with new styles of music to determine what her sound should be. Initially shuttling back-and-forth between Hamburg and Britain, where she was still starring in various theatrical productions, Sarah later moved to Germany permanently to continue her career there with Frank. In 1993 she triumphed with her first Peterson-produced hit, Captain Nemo. This song served as the landmark start of her solo career with Frank, with the full-length album Dive following later that year. The album's gentle synth-ballads mixed with rock beats and dark textures, made for a haunting journey with its tragic tales of lost galleons and sea-swept legends. Frank and Sarah's partnership continued to strengthen, ensuring a great friendship between the two, both professionally and personally.
:: flying high
Peterson's next major project was with Marky Mark and Prince Ital Joe the following year. Sarah demoed Life In The Streets before the choir-parts were recorded, it was simply a one-take session. Although these recordings were not used on that album, Frank felt her vocals fit rather well on some of the remixes and thus they can be heard on The Remix Album. This project had also served to introduce Frank and Alex Christensen who then went on to collaborate for three tracks on Sarah's follow-up album Fly. The aggressive hard-edged sound came as something of a shock to some fans, but it proved that Sarah was willing and eminently capable of performing a variety of styles convincingly. The concept of Brightman's crystal-clear angelic voice pitched against powerful, unrepentant dance music was personified in A Question Of Honour, the single that made her truly a European star.
:: the turning-point
So impressed by her vocal range was Peterson
that he urged Sarah to start taking opera lessons. As a showcase for this
new honing of her talent, Frank adapted the song Time To Say Goodbye.
No expense was spared to give Sarah the full orchestral backing she richly
deserved. Although originally a solo piece, Peterson decided to re-cast
it as a duet and it was fitting then that the singer of the original version
Andrea Bocelli be invited
to perform the male lead.
:: the precedent
This success prompted Peterson to find more songs in this neo-operatic vein, yet at the same time ensuring a contemporary appeal. The classically poignant subsequent album, Timeless was the masterpiece that truly gave Sarah global stardom, including markets such as America and Britain which had previously remained elusive for her solo-career. Just as Fly had been so radically different from Dive so too was this new album a complete departure from the work Frank and Sarah had done previously. But despite such a change in style, it brought her a wealth of classical-crossover fans and laid the ground-work for her new image: one of an operatic chanteuse, effortlessly floating from Puccini aria to pop-ballads. The world had finally been conquered by the operatic voice of a woman whom people thought could only do musicals!
:: exotic world
With Brightman's success now firmly rooted, Peterson could expand the repertoire with synthesisers and electronic textures. In 1998 Eden was released again seamlessly combining opera vocals with orchestral music, but with a greater modern-dimension than Timeless. It also kicked off the first world tour of Sarah Brightman's solo career, which began in South Africa's Sun City. The show, designed and arranged by Frank, brought a visual dimension to the music with a troupe of dancers, orchestra and wide array of breathtaking costumes. She visited numerous countries throughout 1999 and received tremendous welcome from each. For the first time also, a VHS and later a DVD, of her One Night In Eden show at Sun City was released worldwide. Forever the perfectionist, whenever Sarah hears one of her songs on radio or television, she gives her personal criticism of what she could have done better.
From here there was only one way to go: up —
and the heavens became the subject of her following release. On 25 April
2000, her fifth Frank Peterson-produced album, La
Luna was finally available in Europe. It picks up where Eden
left off, combining pop with opera but now also including elements of
folk and traditional, thereby perfecting Sarah's dark-ambient pop-classical
crossover style. Many people who would hardly ever listen to opera, now
found it refreshingly interwoven within Sarah's albums. This was due in
no small part to Frank's unnerving talent for selecting exactly the right
source material and arranging it in such a way that it would be pleasing
for a pop audience. Although Peterson admits he does not readily enjoy
full-length operas, he is very knowledgeable about the famous arias and
:: serious form
After such a taxing year, it was important for Sarah to take a break from recording, so on 20 November 2001 a compilation album was released entitled Classics which featured 8 of her more classical-orientated songs from her last three albums. But Sarah never could rest, so 7 never-befere-released recordings were included as well.
Besides her stunning vocal performance, Sarah Brightman is also able to play piano and keyboards. Ever since Dive, she has also been taking a more active role in producing, composing and arranging her music. But Sarah also contributes to other Peterson projects, from co-composing songs for Princessa's album Calling You to providing guest vocals on Gregorian's Masters Of Chant albums.
:: and to relax?
When she is not busy with music Sarah enjoys going to the movies, preferably at midnight, so that her work during the day is not disturbed. Although often staying in Milan training with her vocal teacher, she spends most of her time in Germany with Frank and the two enjoy taking long walks along the beach. In the mornings, she also jogs around the lake in Hamburg, as running makes her feel wonderful. During the summer she looks forward to working in the garden at her London home, which she describes as a wild place filled with apple trees and mountain roses.
:: early start
Before her deserved rise to fame as a solo performer, Sarah had always been part of an ensemble. Born on 14 August 1960 in Berkhampstead, England she finished school early and joined a pop-group called Hot Gossip in the late 1970s. They had some top ten hits, their biggest success being (I Lost My Heart To A) Starship Trooper which was re-released with all-new remixes, two decades later as a Frank Peterson project called United Citizen Federation.
:: all the world's a stage
Sarah was out of work for about a year and a half
after Hot Gossip folded, before deciding to audition for a new musical
called "Cats". There she met the composer of the show, Andrew
Lloyd-Webber, a prolific British stage-musical producer who told her she
should consider working in the theatre. Sarah had to go through at least
another six auditions after that (for the producer, director etc.), but
she persevered and finally clinched the role. So at the age of 20 Sarah
began a career in musicals, but always knew that she would never stay
in it forever.
:: the horizon...
Towards the end of 2001, Peterson began fleshing out the concept for Brightman's newest album. The desert sands of the Middle East were calling and soon Sarah would be welcoming everyone into the music of Harem. And, as has become the norm, Sarah launched a world tour in December 2003 to promote the new album. But this is a tour that was bigger, brighter, and bolder than ever before and in 2004 the Live From Las Vegas DVD and CD recording revealed one of the most impressive performances of the tour.
Sarah is a remarkable performer, with a truly heavenly voice that will remain forever timeless...
This ever-growing biography would not be possible without the invaluable assistance of Ellen Chang and her Sarah Brightman Timeline Website.
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