Sarah Brightman Biography

14 August 1960, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. An actress and singer who first came to notice in 1978 when, with the dance group Hot Gossip, Brightman made the UK Top 10 with the disco pop single ‘I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper’. It was all a far cry from her childhood ambition to become a ballet dancer. Three years after her chart success, she won a part in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, and was noticed again - this time by the composer himself - and they were married in 1984. The marriage lasted for six years, and, during that time, Brightman became established as one of the premier leading ladies of the musical theatre.

After Cats, Brightman appeared for a season at the Old Vic in Frank Dunlop’s 1982 adaptation of Masquerade, and later in the year she was in Charles Strouse’s short-lived musical Nightingale. All this time she was taking singing lessons, training her superb soprano voice so that she could undertake more demanding roles than those in conventional musical comedy. In 1984 she appeared in the television version of Lloyd Webber’s Song And Dance, and also sang on the Top 30 album. A year later, she made her operatic debut in the role of Valencienne in The Merry Widow at Sadlers Wells, and gave several concerts of Lloyd Webber’s Requiem in England and America, which resulted in another bestselling album. It also produced a Top 5 single, ‘Pie Jesu’, on which Brightman duetted with the 12-year-old Paul Miles-Kingston. In 1986 Brightman enjoyed a great personal triumph when she co-starred with Michael Crawford in The Phantom Of The Opera, and recreated her role two years later on Broadway. She had UK Top 10 hits with three songs from the show, ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ (with Steve Harley), ‘All I Ask Of You’ (with Cliff Richard) and ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Brightman toured many parts of the world, including Japan and the UK, in a concert production of The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber. In December 1991, at the end of the American leg of the tour, she took over the leading role of Rose in Aspects Of Love for the last few weeks of the Broadway run. She also joined the West End production for a time, but, while her presence was welcomed and her performance critically acclaimed, she was unable to prevent its closure in June 1992. In the same year Brightman was high in the UK chart again, this time duetting with opera singer José Carreras on the Olympic Anthem, ‘Amigos Para Siempre (Friends For Life)’, which was written, inevitably, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyric by Don Black.

In 1993 Brightman made her debut in straight theatre with appearances in Trelawny Of The Wells and Relative Values. For some years it had been forecast that Lloyd Webber would write a stage musical or film for her based on the life of Jessie Matthews, the graceful star of many 20s and 30s musicals, and to whom she bears an uncanny facial resemblance. However, in 1994 the composer dropped his option on Michael Thornton’s biography of Matthews, and announced that there ‘no further plans to develop the project’.

Based mostly in Germany in the 90s, Brightman continued to perform in Australia, Canada, America and elsewhere. In 1997 her duet with the blind Tuscan tenor Andrea Bocelli, ‘Time To Say Goodbye’, topped the charts throughout Europe. In the same year, her tour of the UK, in company with the English National Orchestra, included a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She had another surprise UK hit single in 1997 when ‘Timeless’ went near the top of the charts. She also established herself as a bestselling diva in the USA with albums such as Eden (1998), La Luna (2000) and Harem (2003). The title track of the latter went on to top the US dance charts. The stage productions on the tours to accompany these albums were spectacular and lavish affairs, which grossed millions of dollars in the United States alone.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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