Katherine Jenkins ‘to receive New Year’s honour’

Katherine Jenkins ‘to receive New Year’s honour’


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2013

Two tabloids have broken the embargo on the New Year’s Honours list to report that the sometimes wobbly Welsh warbler will receive an OBE, in recognition of her support for the armed forces.

The Sun, a noted authority on the arts, designates her ‘a fine ambassador for the arts’.



  • Ziggy says:

    Anyone can nominate anyone else for an honour (all the applications are online) – but we never learn who’s taken the initiative. Ah well! Worse things happen at sea…

  • “Wobbly Welsh Warbler” indeed! Well, that lends a whole new meaning to “www” one may suppose. At least she’s apparently being honoured for “support for the armed forces” (however questionable such support might be thought to be) rather than for services to “opera”…

  • cabbagejuice says:

    Another WWW: Why (her)? Where (as ambassador)? What (arts)?

    • ehkzu says:

      Re: Why (her)?

      Because she’s the one who has supported Britain’s armed forces over the years–far more than the admittedly better singers you favor.

      Re: Where (as ambassador)?

      Remote bases in places like Iraq and Afghanistan–repeatedly–as well as numerous charity events on the home front.

      Re: What (arts)?

      Singing for soldiers.

      As an experienced consumer of classical music, I know what’s wrong with Katherine Jenkins as a classical mezzo, and I don’t seek out her performances for my own delectation. But unlike some of the supercilious commentors here, I don’t dismiss her support for the armed forces just because I prefer other singers personally.

      These commentors’ dismissive witticisms reveal more about themselves than about Katherine Jenkins–most importantly that readers of Slipped Disk cannot depend on these people for useful observations, since they appear to let personal animosity trump other considerations.

      I’m sure that British troops in Afghanistan would rather see a beautiful “wobbly soprano” perform for them in person than play a recording of a better–and probably less beautiful–singer. And even though I appreciate the musical difference between Jenkins and, say, Cecilia Bartoli, if I were in those soldiers’ shoes I’d make the same choice.

      • Derek Castle says:

        Mm….entertaining the troops. She’s found her niche. Just like Jackie and her thousands; the more, the merrier.

      • cabbagejuice says:

        @Ehksu This was obviously not a talent contest so no need to compare other singers or bring them into the discussion.

  • Janey says:

    Are they running out of UK citizens who’ve spent lifetimes representing the UK positively?

    I am impressed by Ms. Jenkins’ work with the troops, but I further note that she has never done her work without a press release, and it has only been under a decade. I believe, like US Medals of Freedom, Kennedy Center Honors, and National Arts Medals, the general practice for this type of honor should be reserved for a lifetime’s work, or even 20 years, regardless of whom is honored.

    • Anon says:

      Janey, that seems a bit hard. How would you know if KJ had done work without a press release? I’m sure that she has. And in any case, I very much doubt it’s either her or her team who would produce press releases anyway. If concert promoters, record labels and others wish to publicise her involvement, as well they might, it is hardly fair to hold that against her.

  • Janey says:

    I also believe there is something wrong with an honors system that awards Ms. Jenkins an OBE but true UK ambassadors like Elaine Paige only CBEs. This is clearly off somewhere.

    • A CBE is higher than an OBE (Other Buggers’ Efforts, as my father used to say)

    • Anon says:

      There are two things wrong here:

      A CBE (Commander of…) is a higher award than an OBE (Officer of…), both within the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, not the other way around.

      Elaine Paige, unless I’m mistaken, was awarded an OBE in the mid-nineties. I don’t see her name in the 2014 New Year’s honours for a CBE.

      • Janey says:

        Thank you for the correction.

        It is disturbing that Ms. Jenkins is now on a par for honors with someone like Ms. Paige. These honors seem oddly distributed.

        • Anon says:

          You could equally suggest it’s absurd that a bunch of political time-servers in relative non-jobs pick up a gong by default after years of well-paid earnings and a substantial guaranteed final salary pension, for doing no more than their job asks. This seems worse to me than any perceived disparity between Jenkins and Paige. It’s worth noting that Paige’s honour was bestowed nigh on twenty years ago and not recently, so there’s little direct comparison to make at this point; you are welcome to nominate her for an upgrade next time around, of course.

  • Anonymouse says:

    Revolting suck up to the establishment.

    She was at Maggie’s funeral after all.

    Couldn’t sing for toffee.

    • Anon says:


      Being at Thatcher’s funeral is clearly no qualification for a gong; plenty were there who haven’t received them. Daft comment.

      And while there will be many here who think KJ “can’t” sing, there are many many more who think she can. By the standards of many pop singers, she can indeed sing. Her pitch is good, tone is even in small ranges, pronunciation and diction generally good. I freely accept that she doesn’t sing to the standards of a top classical or operatic singer, but that doesn’t mean she can’t sing. (As opposed to say Rebecca Loos, or some of the X-factor auditionees weeded out at that early stage. Some of these folks really can’t sing.)

      • Derek Castle says:

        You watch the X-Factor !?

      • Anonymouse says:

        Establishment suck up.

        Supporter of the thousands killed or maimed in our illegal wars.

        If I was a soldier I’d be disgusted if they sent her to sing for me.

        Blatant publicity stunt costing the MOD £400,000 a year.

        What? You thought she did it out of the goodness of her heart?!

  • Apparently, Katherine Jenkins is also the leading cause of tenosynovitis in our armed forces. Pretty gong-worthy in our current society.

    • Derek Castle says:

      A quick search tells me it’s the ‘inflammation of the wrist tendon due to overuse’.

      Are you trying to tell us something, Theodore?

  • timwalton3 says:

    Even Music College singers can sing bett than KJ. They learn to sing naturally without a microphone stuck in their gob. KJ’s voice is so small that without a microphone you wouldn’t hear her.

    Now there’s an idea. Can someone ask the Power companies to pull the plug wherever she is singing. Then she might learn to sing normally.

    • Anonymouse says:


      Shockingly true. I have heard some extremely good soloists with choirs in the uk, who actually the time and effort to learn correct language and diction. Kaff’s Italian, French and even English at times is gobbledygook. Please listen to this and guess what language.

      • cabbagejuice says:

        I could make out the word “horizon” at the beginning and “wait” at the end. The latter alone is evidence of not a very good English translation. One can extend the o in “l’aspetto” for as long as your breath gives out but “wait” is a diphthong that ends with an unfriendly t. Italian would have been better. I don’t think the Japanese would have known the difference.

        Bur she did surprise me with the consistency and pleasantness of tone in a more mezzo-friendly key a tone lower. (Victoria de los Angeles sang it in the original however.) She does have good material for a singer and stage presence too. Pity so much of her output is not on the same level.