Welsh soprano Charlotte Church was just 12 when she landed herself a five-album deal with Sony. "I don't want to build up my hopes too much in case it doesn't work out," she said at the time, admitting: "It is very exciting." Little did she know it was only the beginning.
Born February 21, 1986, the daughter of James, a security firm supervisor, and Maria, a classical guitarist and housing officer, Charlotte grew up in a working-class suburb of Cardiff, Wales. Before their daughter turned ten, her parents had recognised she had the makings of a professional.
"We first realised just how good Charlotte was when she entered a karaoke contest (in 1995)," explained James, just before his daughter recorded her first CD. "She ended up beating some professional singers and we thought, 'Here's something special'."
In 1999, just a few years after an appearance on Jonathan Ross's Big Big Talent Show
led to her discovery by manager Jonathan Shalit, the young vocalist had found international success. Known around the world as 'The Voice Of An Angel', Charlotte broke Stevie Wonder's record as the youngest solo artist ever to enter the US Top 30. But the talented teen says her career wasn't about seeing her name in the charts. "I never wanted to be famous," she says. "I just wanted to sing."
Three years on, with superstar Charlotte worth £15 million, rumour had it that the increasingly headstrong star had sacked her mum, who had stepped into the role of manager. The news came on the heels of a number of reports of teen rebellion, including a newly developed smoking habit and a controversial 18-year-old boyfriend, DJ Steven Johnson. The young singer assured fans that Maria remained one of her "most trusted advisors", however.
After splitting with Steven in late 2003 the singer dated Kyle Johnson, a relationship which foundered in a kiss and tell ending.
A series of turbulent relationships later and Charlotte found stability with handsome Welsh rugby player Gavin Henson, whom she began dating in spring 2005. The loved-up couple bought a house together in Cardiff, and Charlotte credits sportsman Gavin's healthy lifestyle with having a calming influence on her lifestyle. "Everything in my life has changed for the better. I'm so much happier now and am much more comfortable in myself," she said. The couple welcomed "a beautiful baby girl", whom they called Ruby, at their farmhouse on September 20, 2007.
On the professional front, Charlotte carved a new niche for herself and achieved considerable success in 2006 hosting her own eponymously titled chat show.