Joining the likes of Camilla Kerslake, Sara Kempe, and Mary-Jess on the list of young female sopranos vying for Katherine Jenkins' crown, former All Angels vocalist Laura Wright's blend of traditional folk with luscious orchestration provided a new twist to the classical crossover genre. Born in Framsden, Suffolk in 1990, she first found fame at age 15 upon winning BBC R2's Chorister of the Year contest at Westminster Abbey, and following a recommendation from composer Howard Goodall a year later, was selected from over 120 auditioners to join a new four-piece choral group, All Angels. Wright appeared on their 2006 self-titled debut, and follow-ups Into Paradise (2007) and Fly Away (2009), twice sang in front of the Queen, and performed the National Anthem at both Twickenham and Wembley Stadium before leaving to study opera at London's Royal College of Music. After performing Frank Sinatra's "My Way" at a tribute to the late England football manager Bobby Robson, she signed a solo deal with Decca Records and continued to balance her studies with several extracurricular sports competitions and a part-time job as a waitress, while recording her debut album. Inspired by a book of traditional folk numbers passed on to her by her grandmother, The Last Rose featured classical interpretations of songs spanning four centuries, from 1600s Scottish ballad "The Water Is Wide" to the 1920s musical adaptation of W.B. Yeats poem "Down by the Salley Gardens." Produced by the team behind the official Royal Wedding album (Anna Barry, John Rutter, Paul Mealor) and featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it topped the classical charts and reached number 24 in the official U.K. album chart on its release in 2011, the same year she supported Les Misérables tenor Alfie Boe and Any Dream Will Do winner Lee Mead on their U.K. tours.
by Jon O'Brien