■ The mezzo-soprano and OBE, 39, on her Christmas concert, her Stormzy cover and why she’s keen to keep dancing
What can people expect from your Christmas concert at the Royal Albert Hall tonight?
We have a full orchestra and choir with some of my friends on stage, such as Alexis Ffrench, Marisha Wallace and the lovely Colin Thackery. He won Britain’s Got Talent but I’ve been going in to sing for the Chelsea Pensioners since 2004 so I have loads of friends there. The whole concert will be fun, festive, traditional Christmas music through to modern seasonal pieces.
It’s on the day of the elections — do you hope to take everyone’s minds off it?
Yes, I think there are two aims for me: if people are coming who are not in the Christmas spirit then I want to help wrap them up in all the festive fun by the time they leave. And also to hopefully give people a couple of hours of respite from election talk and looming results. By the time the show is over, I think results will start coming in but I won’t be giving updates from the stage — people can deal with that when they get outside!
Does the Royal Albert Hall feel like a second home to you?
My husband, Andrew, was asking me the other day how many times I’ve performed there and I think it could be nearly 50. It’s my favourite venue in the world. It’s so iconic, nowhere else compares. Every time I walk out on that stage I take a sharp intake of breath because it’s so amazing. I especially love that my kids come to the rehearsal and are running around the orchestra in the soundcheck — they think that’s perfectly normal. I didn’t see an orchestra until I was in my teens, even though I started singing when I was four. I love being able to share that time with them before the hall gets filled.
You sang at the Classic Brit Awards there just weeks after having second child Xander — how did you manage it?
It must have been the hormones because I don’t know what made me do that! It’s a bit of an intense time, when you’ve just had a baby, and I’m so glad I did it but I do remember thinking, ‘You’re nuts, I can’t believe you’re doing this!’ But it was the Classic Brit Awards in my favourite venue so it was a comfortable setting for my first one back. What was special was having Xander backstage and Bryn Terfel scooping him up when he was crying. Bryn started singing to him and Xander immediately stopped, and while he obviously didn’t realise the best baritone in the world was singing to him, I know he appreciated the voice and enjoyed the song because within five minutes he was asleep in Bryn’s arms. I found my dream babysitter!
Has Stormzy told you what he thinks of your version of Blinded By Your Grace on your latest album Guiding Light?
No, I’ve not heard! I really want to know. I’m sure I’ll meet him at some point and we’ll have a conversation about it but we’ve still not met. He wrote such a beautiful, meaningful song there and mine was meant to be a completely different version and arrangement, seeing it from a more sacred side. I know he’s a Christian so it’s nice to be able to pay tribute to it.
Is that how you make music more accessible, by doing different versions of things?
It’s about always being open to trying new things. I’m proof you don’t have to have come from a privileged background to love classical. I come from such a normal place in Wales. My parents didn’t know anything about classical music and I fell in love with it when I was introduced to it singing in church. It’s all about the introduction.
Having come second in Dancing With The Stars, do you dance much these days?
Only with my children at home. But it’s still something I would love to do. Dancing makes you happy, which is why we do it a lot at home with our kids.
Why did you decide to do it in America and not do Strictly?
The American one asked me because I’d performed as a singer on it the year before. And it was just the right point in time for me. Having a change of scenery for four months and escaping my personal life a little bit — it was the best thing. It got me back on my feet, I made amazing friends and I learnt to dance.
How do you feel about turning 40 next year?
Everyone keeps asking if I’ve had the wobble yet and I just think I have all I ever wanted. Aside from all the amazing stuff that’s happened with singing, I have my family and friends, and I’m not really sure what more I could ask for.
What are your plans for Christmas?
To be with the family, go down to Wales. I find now that Aaliyah is four she’s really into Christmas and what it’s all about. I’m taking Christmas off so I can relax and drink and enjoy eating too much food.
■ Christmas With Katherine Jenkins is tonight at 7.30pm at the Royal Albert Hall. Visit royalalberthall.com