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Sarah Brightman (born 14 August 1960) is a British crossover soprano, actress, songwriter and dancer. She sings in many languages including English, Spanish, French, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Hindi, Mandarin and Japanese.

Brightman has 160 Gold and Platinum awards in 34 countries and is the only artist to hold #1 spots on the Billboard Classical and Dance charts simultaneously, her other achievements feature her ranking by the Recording Industry Association of America as the best-selling female classical artist of the twenty-first century, and a Guinness World Record for “Time to Say Goodbye”, the best-selling single in German recording history.

She has established herself as the world's biggest selling soprano of all time, with worldwide sales of more than 26 million albums and over 2 million DVDs.

She was a dancer in troupes such as Hot Gossip, and later released a number of disco singles. She was a musical theatre performer and partner of theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with whom she originated roles including Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera.

After her divorce from Lloyd Webber, Brightman became a crossover artist with former Enigma producer Frank Peterson. Her style is a blend of classical vocals and pop-inspired instrumentation and arrangement.

Her personal assets have been estimated to be around £30m (about US$49m).


Family and early life

Brightman was born and brought up in Little Gaddesdenmarker, a village situated near Berkhamstedmarker, Hertfordshiremarker, England. She lived in John O'Gaddesden House in the village. Brightman is the eldest of six children. Her father was businessman Grenville Geoffrey Brightman (1934-1992); her mother is Paula (nee Hall). At the age of three, she began taking dance classes at the Elmhurst School for Dancemarker in Camberleymarker, Surreymarker and appeared in local festivals and competitions. At the age of 11, she successfully auditioned at The Arts Educational School, Tring Parkmarker, a boarding school specialising in performing arts. It was an experience she recalled with The Independent as troublesome. Brightman was teased by other students and ran away once, but remained at the school. Later, she auditioned for the Royal Ballet in London but was rejected. She studied dance, focusing more on jazz style, most notably being a pupil of West End theatremarker and Hot Gossip choreographer, Arlene Phillips. At 16, in 1976, Brightman joined the dance group Pan's People, on the BBC series Top of the Pops. She left a year later to lead Hot Gossip, a mixed dance act who appeared on The Kenny Everett Video Show. The group, more provocative than Pan's People, 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.

The group released a follow-up single, "The Adventures of the Love Crusader", six months later, but it failed to chart. Brightman, now solo, released more disco singles under Whisper Records; these included "Not Having That!" and a cover of the song "My Boyfriend's Back".

1981–1989: Stage career

In 1981, Brightman auditioned for the new musical Cats and received the role of Jemima. In rehearsals she met Andrew Lloyd Webber. The two married in 1984 and Brightman starred in Lloyd Webber's musicals, including Song and Dance and the mass Requiem, the latter written for her. With Requiem she earned her first Grammy nomination.

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 Broadwaymarker unless Brightman played Christine. Initially, the American Actors' Equity Association balked, due to 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 musicalmarker before the Equity would allow Brightman to appear (a promise he kept in casting Aspects of Love).

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. She released studio recordings, including the single "Anything But Lonely" from Aspects of Love and two solo albums: the 1988 album The Trees They Grow So High, a compilation of folk songs accompanied by piano, and the 1989 album The Songs That Got Away, a musical theatre compilation of songs cut from shows by composers such as Irving Berlin and Stephen Sondheim.

By 1990, Brightman and Lloyd Webber separated. After their divorce, Brightman played the lead in Lloyd Webber's Aspects in London opposite Michael Praed, before transferring to Broadwaymarker.

1990s: Solo career

Her stage career curtailed, Brightman pursued solo recording in Los Angeles. In 1992, she sang the song for the Olympic Games, "Amigos Para Siempre" with José Carreras, written by Webber. She was inspired to go solo by the German band Enigma and requested to work with one of its members. Her request was answered and in 1991 Brightman traveled to Germany to meet her producer, Frank Peterson. Their first release was Dive (1993), a water-themed pop album that featured "Captain Nemo", a cover of a song by the Swedish electronica band Dive.

Fly (1995), a pop rock album and her second collaboration with Peterson, propelled Brightman to fame in Europe with the hit "A Question of Honour". The song, introduced at the World Boxing Championship match between Germany'smarker Henry Maske and Graciano Rocchigiani, combined electronic dance music, rock elements, classical strings, and excerpts from the aria "Ebben? ... Ne andrò lontana" from Alfredo Catalani's opera La Wally.

"Time to Say Goodbye" ("Con te partirò") was the second Brightman song debuted for Maske, this time at his retirement match. This duet with tenor Andrea Bocelli 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 5 million copies worldwide. Due to the song's success, a 1996 re-issue of Fly featured "Time to Say Goodbye" as the first track.

Timeless (released in 1997, with the title Time to Say Goodbye in the United States) contained "Time to Say Goodbye" and other classical-inspired tracks such as "Just Show Me How to Love You", a duet with José Cura (originally sung by Dario Baldambembo with the title "Tu Cosa Fai Stasera?"), a cover of the Queen hit "Who Wants to Live Forever", and "Tu Quieres Volver", (originally recorded by the Gipsy Kings). The album has sold 1.4 million copies in the U.S. to date.

Brightman's mainstream exposure in the United States also began around this time, starting with an appearance on Bocelli's December 1997 PBS television special, duetting "Time to Say Goodbye"; later, in March 1998, her own PBS special, Sarah Brightman in Concert at the Royal Albert Hallmarker, marked the point when she crossed from Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart to the Billboard 200 chart, with Time to Say Goodbye. In 1999, she appeared on the album I Won't Forget You by Princessa, another artist with whom Peterson had worked.

2000–2003: Further mainstream success

Later albums included Eden (1998) (the title track of which was a cover of a song by Belgian band Hooverphonic), and La Luna (2000). These albums, unlike Time to Say Goodbye, incorporated more pop music elements. Reviews were mixed - LAUNCHcast deemed Eden "deliriously sappy", while Allmusic called Eden "a winning combination" and La Luna "a solid, stirring collection".

Eden reached #65 on the Billboard 200 charts (certified Gold for selling over 500,000 copies), and La Luna peaked at #17 (La Luna has scanned 873.000 copies sold in the U.S.). In addition, both albums reached #1 on Billboard's Classical Crossover charts. At the end of 2001, Billboard magazine noted Brightman as one of four classical crossover artists from the UK (the others being Charlotte Church, Russell Watson, and bond) with albums on both the Classical Crossover and Billboard 200 charts, a phenomenon which, it said, contributed to a resurgence of UK music in the U.S. after "a historic low" in 1999.

In 2001, Brightman released Classics, an album of operatic arias and other classical pieces including a solo version of "Time to Say Goodbye". Its reviews were somewhat better than its predecessors: Entertainment Weekly, although calling Brightman a "stronger song stylist than a singer", gave the album a grade of B-.

In 2001, Brightman released "The secret" on SASH!'s fifth studio album S4!Sash!. This song was re-released in 2007 as "The secret 2007 (Unreleased)" on SASH!'s sixth album 10th Anniversary.

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 Iraqimarker 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 #29 on the Billboard 200 charts (with sales tracked by Nielsen SoundScan figuring at approximately 333,000, or about one-third the total sales of La Luna), #1 on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart, and yielded a #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 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.

Recently, the Harem tour grossed $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 most grossing pledge events.


Brightman released a DVD collection of her music videos on 3 October 2006 under the title of Diva: The Video Collection. Diva: The Singles Collection is the accompanying CD, released on the same date. The album marked the first time Brightman has released a greatest hits album in the United States; it reached #1 on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart. (Classics, from 2001, featured seven new recordings in addition to the previously-released material, and her other reflective offering, The Best of 1990-2000, was a European-only release.)

Brightman was one of the artists featured on the January 2007 series of the prime time BBC One show Just the Two of Us, partnered with English cricketer Mark Butcher. The pair finished the competition in third place.

Subsequent appearances include the Concert For Diana in July 2007, where she sang "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera with Josh Groban, Around 15 million people from across the UK watched Concert for Diana at home, and it was broadcast to over 500 million homes in 140 countries; the 7 July 2007 Chinese leg of Live Earth in Shanghai, where she performed four songs ("Nessun Dorma", "La Luna", "Nella Fantasia" and "Time to Say Goodbye") and debuted her single "Running" at the 2007 IAAF Championships in Osaka, Japan on 25 August. She also participated at the 2007 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, where she performed "The Journey Home" on the Jolly Polly Pirate Ship. She recorded a duet with Anne Murray singing "Snowbird" on Murray's 2007 album Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends.

On 29 January 2008, Brightman released her first album in five years: Symphony, influenced by gothic music. In the United States it became Brightman's most successful chart entry and also her highest ranked album on Billboard's "Top 200 Albums". It was also a #1 album on two other Billboard's charts: "Top Internet Albums" and "Top Classical Crossover Albums". The album moved there 31,463 copies in first week, according to Nielsen Soundscan. In Canada the album debuted and peaked at #4 and in México it entered at #9, where it peaked at #5 and has been certified Gold after selling over 40,000 copies. The Song "Symphony" is a cover of "Symphony" by the German band Silbermond. "Fleurs du Mal" was the second single of the album and experienced a big radio airplay.

Featured on the album are artists Fernando Lima, Andrea Bocelli, and KISS vocalist Paul Stanley, who duets with Brightman on "I Will Be With You", the album version of the theme song to the 10th Pocket Monsters motion picture, Dialga VS Palkia VS Darkrai (Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai). To accompany Symphony, Brightman embarked on a tour in Autumn 2008; "The Symphony World Tour" featured new and groundbreaking technology, with virtual and holographic stage sets that have never been seen before in any touring concert production. The tour grossed over $10 million in the first North American leg, and became one of the most successful tours in the U.S. and Canada. On 16 January 2008 she also appeared in concert at Vienna’s Stephansdom Cathedralmarker performing songs from her new album. Special guests that sang duets with Sarah include Italian tenor Alessandro Safina, Argentinean countertenor Fernando Lima, and British singer Chris Thompson. Brightman made several appearances on television in the United States to promote Symphony, including Fashion on Ice on NBC on 12 January, The View on 30 January, Martha on 31 January and Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel. She performed two songs, "Pie Jesu" and "There You'll Be", at the United States Memorial Day concert on 25 May 2008 held on the west lawn of the United States Capitolmarker in Washington D.C.marker. Brightman stars as Blind Mag in the rock musical film Repo! The Genetic Opera which was released on 7 November, 2008 - her first film role. Brightman was cast in the film at the last minute after the original actress who was cast for the role was dropped.On 8 August 2008 Brightman and Chinese singer Liu Huan jointly sang You and Me in both Mandarin and English at the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony.On 4 November, 2008, Brightman released her first holiday album, entitled A Winter Symphony.

In 2008 Sarah Brightman sang "Silent Night" for the Walt Disney Worldmarker Very Merry Christmas parade, airing on ABC Christmas Morning.

ITV television show Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway has featured Brightman's "Time To Say Goodbye" as part of their Ant Vs. Dec: The Teams Section. The song has been played in the 2008 and 2009 series when a team member is eliminated.

Following her performance at the Beijing Olympics, Sarah was appointed as the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Promotion Ambassador in Britainmarker. In anticipation of the Expo, she launched "Shanghai Week in London", which showcases the city's heritage and culture.

The music of Brightman was featured in the movie Amalfi: Megami No 50-Byou (Amalfi: 50 Seconds of a Goddess), which was a special production to mark Fuji Televisionmarker's 50th anniversary. The first Japanese movie to be shot entirely on location in Italy. In conjunction with the release of the new Japanese movie Amalfi, Sarah released a new album titled Amalfi - Sarah Brightman Love Songs.

Sarah Brightman was in charge of the main theme song for the historical drama series "Saka no Ue no Kumo." The song's lyrics are entirely in Japanese.Titled "Stand Alone," the song was composed by Joe Hisaishi and written by Kundo Koyama. It was included on the drama's soundtrack album, released on November 18, 2009.

Music and voice

Brightman underwent vocal training first with Elizabeth Hawes, head of the Trinity Music Collegemarker in London, and later with Ellen Faull of Juilliardmarker. She currently studies with internationally known voice teacher David Romano. She has a three-octave vocal range. According to Brightman, her voice sometimes reaches an F6.However, her highest note sung in public and in studio is the E6 final of "The Phantom of the Opera".

David Caddick, a conductor of Phantom, has stated:

"What is amazing about Sarah is that she has two voices, really.
She can produce a pop, contemporary sound, but she can also blossom out into a light soprano.
The soprano part of her voice can go up to an E natural above high C.
She doesn’t sing it full out, but it is there.
Of course, she has to dance while she is singing some of the time, so it’s all the more extraordinary."

She sometimes uses her pop and classical voices in the same song. One example is "Anytime, Anywhere" from Eden, a song based on Tomaso Albinoni's Adagio in G minor. In the song, she starts out in classical voice, switches to pop voice temporarily, and finishes with her classical voice. Another example is heard in the Lions Gate film Repo! The Genetic Opera, during the song "Chase The Morning" by her character, Blind Mag.

Brightman's music is generally classified as classical crossover. According to Manhattan Records GM Ian Ralfini, she is largely responsible for the popularity of the genre. In a 2000 interview with People, Brightman dismissed the classical crossover label as "horrible" but stated she understood people's need to categorize music. Her personal influences include 60s and 70s musicians and artists such as David Bowie and Pink Floyd, and she incorporates aspects of genres from pop/rock to classical and contemporary. Her work has also been compared to that of Madonna, Cher, Kate Bush, and Celine Dion. The material on her albums ranges from versions of opera arias from composers such as Puccini (on Harem, Eden, and Timeless), to pop songs by artists such as Kansas ("Dust in the Wind" on Eden), Dido ("Here with Me" on La Luna), and Procol Harum ("A Whiter Shade of Pale" on La Luna).

Personal life

At age 18, in 1979, Brightman married Andrew Graham-Stewart, a producer. In 1980 they moved into The Manor House in Little Gaddesdenmarker. In 1983, she divorced Graham-Stewart. She met Andrew Lloyd Webber performing in Cats; Lloyd Webber later divorced his first wife, Sarah Hugill, to marry Brightman on March 22 1984. in Hampshire. During their partnership, the couple faced intense media and tabloid scrutiny. Brightman acknowledged the marriage in a 1999 interview as a "difficult time" but also one of much creative output. Currently they are on friendly terms; at the 20th London anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber publicly pronounced Brightman a "wonderful woman" and "absolutely beloved mentor". He also appeared as special guest in her 1997 concert at the Royal Albert Hall (London).

She is dating Louis Oberlander.

Brightman has suffered several personal crises. In February 1992, her 57 year old father committed suicide by asphyxiation in his car in Hertfordshire after divorce and financial issues. Later, she experienced an ectopic pregnancy and two miscarriages with Peterson. In an interview with the British magazine Hello!, she stated that motherhood would have been "lovely", but accepts that she will never have a child.

Stage credits




  • Granpa, 1989 animated children's film - singing Make Believe over the end credits
  • Zeit Der Erkenntnis, (As herself), 2000 feature film (Germany)
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera (as Blind Mag), 2008 feature film
  • Amalfimarker, (As herself), 2009 feature film (Japan)
  • Cosi, (As Celia), 2010 feature film

Selected discography

Cast recordings

  • Cats (1981)
  • Nightingale - Original London Cast (1983)
  • Song and Dance - Sarah Brightman & Wayne Sleep (1984. Re-released 2007)
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem - Domingo, Brightman, ECO, Maazel (1985)
  • The Phantom of the Opera - Original London Cast (1986)
  • Carousel - Studio Cast (1987)
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera! (2008)

Selected albums


  • "A Timeless Evening With Sarah Brightman" (UK and Germany Only) 1997
  • "One Night In Eden" 1999
  • "La Luna World Tour" 2000-2001
  • "Harem World Tour" 2004-2005 (2005: Mini-Tour in Japan)
  • "Symphony World Tour" 2008-2009 (Except: Europe, South America, Australia)
  • "Sarah Brightman - In Concert" (Mexico and South America Only) 2009

See also


  1. Take That! Gary Barlow joins Rich List, Times Online, 2 May 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2009
  2. Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006
  3. . Soprano Superstar: How Sarah Brightman turned her life around, Daily Mail, 22 March 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  4. Price, Deborah Evans. Genre-Bending Brightman Seeks Crossover Success With 'Symphony'. Billboard Magazine, 19 January 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  5. "Wrapped up in her gift". The Independent. 8 November 1997.
  6. Clayton-Lea, Tony. "Call me Ms. Dependable". The Irish Times, 6 February 1999.
  7. Chin, Siew May. Official biography, part one. [1].
  8. Time. Brightman performed the show on Broadway for six months " Chills, Thrills, and Trapdoors" 18 January 1988. Retrieved 15 October 2006.
  9. Demalon, Tom. " Review: Dive". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 February 2007.
  10. Malich, Daniel. " Review: Fly". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 February 2007.
  11. Dumpert, Hazel-Dawn. " Album Review: Eden". Yahoo! Music. 6 March 2000. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  12. Phares, Heather. " Review: Eden". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  13. Buss, Bryan. " Review: La Luna". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  14. Bernardo, Melissa Rose. " Music Review: Classics". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 August 2006.
  15. "Reesman, Bryan. "Siren Soprano". Yahoo! Music. 9 April 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  16. Powers, Ann. " POP REVIEW; An Ethereal Voice From On High (Up Where the Loudspeakers Are)". The New York Times. 27 September 2000. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
  17. Morse, Steve. " Sarah Brightman literally soars in a unique, compelling show". The Boston Globe. 2 February 2004. Retrieved 28 December 2006.
  18. Chin, Siew May. To the moon and back, Metro Times Detroit, 19 November, 2000. Retrieved 1 September, 2007.
  19. BBC page. Retrieved 14 December 2006
  20. Sarah Brightman at Live Earth
  21. Macy's Press Release
  22. Brightman Gives "Symphony" After 5 Years, CBS News, 29 January, 2008. Retrieved 29 January, 2008/
  23. Price, Deborah Evans. The song "Symphony" is a cover version of the song "Symphonie" by the German band Silbermond. Sarah Brightman releasing first album in five years, Reuters, 12 January, 2008. Retrieved 29 January, 2008.
  24. .
  25. Alter, Gaby. " Tour Profile: Sarah Brightman". 1 April 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2006.
  26. Perusse, Bernard. Sarah Brightman: The original angel of music hits the high notes in Symphony, Times Colonist, 4 February 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  27. Charaipotra, Sona. People Weekly, 6 November 2000.
  28. Selvin, Joel. Brightman Lights Up Civic, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 March, 2001. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  29. Astro-Databank
  30. Larsdotter , Åsa A place for lovers of musicals
  31. Sarah Brightman in Brazil
  32. Barber, Richard. Hello!. 5 December 2006.

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