- "How far can I see? 10 miles? 20? We can't see the glaciers from the desert or the seabed from the mountain peak. We'll never meet all the 7 billion people that walk the earth, but we know they are there. We are prepared to believe what we cannot see. But we can see the moon and the sun, not 20 miles but 93 million miles away. And an endless veil of stars, so distant it questions our belief. Our dreams take us to places we'll never reach and open doors into other worlds and windows into ourselves. The journey to the stars may be as close to a dream as reality may take me. It is clear as I will see the beauty of the universe, I will see deeper inside myself, closer to my dreams. I am not a dreamer -- I am a dreamchaser."
- - Sarah Brightman's Dreamchaser monologue
Sarah Brightman (born 14 August 1960) is an English classical crossover soprano, actress, songwriter and dancer. She has sung in many languages which are English, Spanish, French, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Occitan.
Brightman began her career as a member of the dance troupe Hot Gossip and released several disco singles as a solo performer. In 1981, she made her West End musical theatre debut in Cats and met composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom she married. She went on to star in several West End and Broadway musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera, where she originated the role of Christine Daaé. The Original London Cast Album of the musical was released in CD format in 1987 and sold 40 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling cast album of all time.
After retiring from the stage and divorcing Lloyd Webber, Brightman resumed her music career with former Enigma producer Frank Peterson, this time as a classical crossover artist. She is often credited as the creator of this genre and remains among the most prominent performers, with worldwide sales of more than 30 million records and 2 million DVDs, establishing herself as the world's best-selling soprano of all time.
Brightman's 1996 duet with the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, "Time To Say Goodbye", topped charts all over Europe and became the highest and fastest selling single of all time in Germany, where it stayed at the top of the charts for fourteen consecutive weeks and sold over 3 million copies. It subsequently became an international success selling 12 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. She has now collected over 180 gold and platinum sales awards in 38 different countries. In 2010 she was named by Billboard the 5th most influential and best-selling classical artist of the 2000s decade in the U.S. and according to Nielsen SoundScan, she has sold 6.5 million albums in the country.
Brightman is the first artist to have been invited twice to perform at the Olympic Games, first at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games where she sang "Amigos Para Siempre" with the Spanish tenor José Carreras with an estimated global audience of a billion people, and sixteen years later in Beijing, this time with Chinese singer Liu Huan, performing the song "You and Me" to an estimated 4 billion people worldwide. Since 2010, Brightman is Panasonic's global brand ambassador. Together they launched the song "Shall Be Done" at the 2010 Winter Games held in Vancouver, Canada. Brightman is the face of Panasonic's strategic partnership agreement with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre as she stars in their joint campaign, "The World Heritage Special," that was aired on the National Geographic Channel worldwide.
Apart from music, Brightman has begun a film career, making her debut in Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), a rock opera-musical film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, and in autumn 2011 and early 2012 Stephen Evans' "First Night", starring opposite Richard E. Grant. In addition, she formed her own production company, Instinct Films, where her first film is in pre-production. Brightman is the world's richest female classical performer with a fortune of £36m (about US$56m). As of 2012, she is training for a space journey to the International Space Station, currently set for 2015.
Family and early lifeEdit
Brightman is the oldest of six children of businessman Grenville Geoffrey Brightman (1934–1992) and Paula Brightman. Her younger sisters are Nicola, Claudia and Amelia (aka Violet). She was raised in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. At age three, she began taking dance and piano classes and went on to perform in local festivals and competitions. At age 11, she successfully auditioned for the Arts Education School in Tring Park, a school specialising in performing arts, but did not attend between 1971 and 1975.
In 1973, at the age of 13, Brightman made her theatrical debut in the musical I and Albert at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, playing one of Queen Victoria's daughters (Victoria). In 1976 she was recruited to lead Arlene Phillips' troupe Hot Gossip in 1977. The group had a disco hit in 1978 with "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper", which sold half a million and reached number six on the UK charts. Brightman, now solo, released more disco singles under her own label, Whisper Records, such as "Not Having That!" and a cover of the song "My Boyfriend's Back". In 1979, Brightman appeared on the soundtrack of the movie "The World Is Full of Married Men" and sang the song "Madam Hyde".
1981–1989: Stage careerEdit
In 1981, Brightman auditioned for the new musical Cats, by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and was cast as Jemima. After a year in Cats, Brightman took over from Bonnie Langford as Kate in The Pirates of Penzance at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, and appeared as Tara Treetops in Masquerade, a musical based on Kit Williams's book of the same title. In that year she left to play the title role in Charles Strouse's children's opera, Nightingale.
Enticed by a rave review, Webber went to watch her in the show one evening and was greatly impressed by her performance. Though she had appeared in his musical Cats, Webber had not previously singled Brightman out as a great talent. The two married in 1984, and Brightman appeared in Lloyd Webber's subsequent musicals including The Phantom of the Opera and Song and Dance, as well as the mass Requiem, which was written and composed for her.
Scarcely a year later, Brightman's recording of Pie Jesu rocketed up the charts, selling 25,000 copies  on the first day of release and peaking at number 3, no mean feat for a song in Latin. With classical music permeating the Lloyd Webber household (Brightman was in heavy operatic training at the time), Lloyd Webber was moved to write the Requiem Mass as a tribute to young victims of war. Its Manhattan premiere, starring Plácido Domingo and Brightman, was filmed by both PBS and the BBC for later broadcast. The LP eventually became UK's top selling classical album of the year and earned Brightman a Grammy nomination as Best New Classical Artist."
Brightman starred as Christine Daaé in Lloyd Webber's adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. The role of Christine was written specifically for her. Lloyd Webber refused to open The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway unless Brightman played Christine. Initially, the American Actors' Equity Association balked, because of their policy that any non-American performer must be an international star. Lloyd Webber had to cast an American in a leading role in his next West End musical before Equity would allow Brightman to appear (a promise he kept in casting Aspects of Love). In the end, it was a compromise that more than paid off. "Phantom" chalked up a staggering $17 million in advance sales prior to opening night on 28 January 1988, and generated a public and media frenzy that is unmatched since. The original cast album was the first in British musical history to enter the music charts at number one. Album sales now exceed forty million worldwide and it is the biggest selling cast album of all time, and has gone six times platinum in the United States, twice platinum in the UK, nine times platinum in Germany, four times platinum in the Netherlands, 21 times platinum in Korea and 17 times platinum in Taiwan.
After leaving Phantom, she performed in a tour of Lloyd Webber's music throughout England, Canada and the United States, and performed Requiem in the Soviet Union. Studio recordings from this time include the single "Anything But Lonely" from Aspects of Love and two solo albums: the 1988 album The Trees They Grow So High, a collection of folk songs accompanied by piano, and the 1989 album The Songs That Got Away, a compilation of obscure musical theatre songs from shows by such composers asIrving Berlin and Stephen Sondheim. Brightman also sang the song "Make Believe" during the credits of the children's film "Grandpa;" Howard Blake composed the music and wrote the lyrics.
By 1990, Brightman and Lloyd Webber had separated, due in part to infidelities on his side. After their divorce, Brightman played the lead in Lloyd Webber's Aspects in London opposite Michael Praed, before transferring to Broadway. Her subsequent solo album, As I Came of Age, was an eclectic collection of folk-rock and musical theatre songs that Brightman herself chose.
1990s: Solo careerEdit
After her very successful stage career, Brightman decided to make a fresh start and embark on a solo career. In 1992, Brightman made an appearance with José Carreras at the Barcelona Olympic Games singing the theme song "Amigos Para Siempre" ("Friends Forever") to a worldwide audience of 3 billion people. Following her appearance, Brightman travelled to Germany to work with co-producer Frank Peterson of “Enigma” fame. The two collaborated on the album Dive, released in 1993 a water-themed pop album that featured "Captain Nemo", a cover of a song by the Swedish electronica band Dive. The album is considered Brightman's first success as a solo recording artist, receiving her first Gold award for exceptional sales in Canada.
Brightman and Peterson’s second collaboration yielded the pop rock album, Fly (1995). The album catapulted Brightman to fame across Europe, and she unveiled its hit track “A Question of Honor” – a mélange of electronic, rock, classical strings and excerpts from the Alfredo Catalani opera “La Wally”. The song and the video were introduced at the World Boxing Championship match between Germany's Henry Maske and Graciano Rocchigiani.
"Time to Say Goodbye", taken from the album Timeless, released in 1997, was the second song Brightman debuted for Maske, this time at his retirement match. This duet with tenor Andrea Bocelli became an international hit and sold more than 3 million copies in Germany alone, became Germany's best-selling single, and was successful in numerous other countries; the album eventually sold over 12 million copies worldwide. It is regarded as one of Brightman and Bocelli's signature songs.
In March 1998, her own PBS special, Sarah Brightman: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, marked the point when she crossed from Billboard's Top Heat Seekers chart to theBillboard 200 chart, with Time to Say Goodbye. The same year, Brightman starred A Gala Christmas in Vienna alongside Plácido Domingo, Helmut Lottie and Riccardo Cocciante singing traditional Christmas carols. On 7 April 1998 she was one of the guest stars in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 50th Birthday Celebration singing Hossanaa with Dennis O'Neill, Pie Jesu, Phantom of the Opera with Antonio Banderas, All I Ask of You with Michael Ball and Music of the Night.
With the success of Timeless, Brightman felt freer to put herself into her next endeavour. Brightman released her next album, Eden in 1998. She hand-selected each song and convinced the Academy Award-winning Italian composer Ennio Morricone to let her set lyrics to one of his film compositions, “Gabriel's Oboe” from the film The Mission resulting in the now legendary “Nella Fantasia”.
The release of Eden also led to a concert tour of the same name, Brightman’s first world tour and a huge success. Eden reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Classical Crossover chart and No. 65 on the Billboard 200 charts and was certified Gold.
2000-2004: Further international successEditIn 2000, La Luna was released. For this album, Brightman chose songs drawing on influences as diverse as pop, vintage jazz, and high opera, in homages to Dvořák, Beethoven and Billie Holiday. La Luna reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Top Internet Albums and peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Brightman's second highest-selling album in the United States with sales of 900,000 and reaching Gold certification. It became her biggest-selling album in Asia, and her first album to be certified Diamond in China. The album was the best-seller by an international artist in South Korea and Taiwan.
At her 2000 PBS La Luna concert, Brightman sang There for Me in a duet with an up-and-coming star, Josh Groban. The same year, Brightman sold more records than Elton John and the Rolling Stones, becoming the highest-selling and top-touring British artist in North America. At the end of 2001, Billboard magazine noted Brightman as the most important classical crossover artist from the United Kingdom.
In 2001, Brightman released Classics, an anthology including highlights from three of Brightman's chart-topping releases along with seven new tracks; this was released worldwide except Europe. In the U.S. the album peaked at No. 66 on the Billboard 200 chart and went Gold. In Canada it peaked at No. 9 and was certified Platinum; and in Japan, Classics became Brightman's most successful release at the time with 300,000 units sold and reaching Platinum status.
Her 2003 album Harem represented another departure: a Middle Eastern-themed album influenced by dance music. On Harem, Brightman collaborated with artists such as Ofra Haza and Iraqi singer Kazem al-Saher. Nigel Kennedy contributed violin tracks to the songs "Free" and "The War is Over", and Jaz Coleman contributed arrangements.
The album peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard 200 chart, No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart, No. 1 on the Swedish Album Chart, and yielded a No. 1 dance/club single with the remix of the title track. Some time later, another single from the album (the ballad "Free", cowritten with Sophie B. Hawkins) became a second Top-10 hit on this chart.
The albums Eden, La Luna and Harem were accompanied by live world tours which incorporated the theatricality of her stage origins. Brightman acknowledged this in an interview, saying, "They're incredibly complicated...[but also] natural. I know what works, what doesn't work, all the old tricks". In both 2000 and 2001, Brightman was among the top 10 most popular British performers in the U.S., with concert sales grossing $7.2 million from 34 shows in 2000 and over $5 million from 21 shows in 2001.
In 2004 the Harem World Tourgrossed $60 million and sold 700,000 tickets, $15 million and 225,000 sales of which came from the North American leg, although with ticket prices raised 30% from previous tours, average sales per venue were up 65%. In North America, Harem tour promoters Clear Channel Entertainment (now Live Nation) took the unusual step of advertising to theatre subscribers, in an effort to reach fans of Brightman's Broadway performances, and also sold VIP tickets, at $750 each, that included in-stage seating during the concert and a backstage pass. Tour reviews were mixed: one critic from the New York Times called the La Luna tour "not so much divine but post-human" and "unintentionally disturbing: a beautiful argument of emptiness." In contrast, a reviewer from the Boston Globe deemed the Harem tour "unique, compelling" and "charmingly effective."
Television specials on PBS were produced for nearly every Brightman album in the U.S.; a director of marketing has credited these as her number-one source of exposure in the country. Indeed, her concert for Eden was among PBS's highest-grossing pledge events.