Katherine Jenkins interview
Katherine Jenkins interview
The top mezzo soprano tells us about launching her own gin, motherhood and what’s next…
Imagery: © Dan Erman – Arctic Zoo
Fiercely proud of her Welsh heritage, singer Katherine Jenkins has just launched a new gin made six miles down the road from where she grew up in Swansea. And the name, Cygnet 22, is a play on that, calling it after the baby swan, while 22 is the number of botanicals included.
Katherine tells us how it came about: “My dad was in the Navy so he drank gin and all the women of the Jenkins family love their gin too so, naturally, I followed suit. When I went to study at the Royal Academy of Music they talked to us about what alcohol was ‘clean’ for our voices and from learning about that, I always wanted to create a high-quality gin – something I could trust was using only the best ingredients.”
Its ethos is to be sustainable, with a beautiful hand-blown bottle designed to be reused as a vase or water carafe. “Creating something beautiful that you know people will enjoy again and again whilst prioritising the planet has been the best passion project!”
As a female founder of the brand, she says she is always inspired by other women running their own ventures. “I regularly experience other female founders being incredible allies. Women in business are amazingly supportive, connecting you with like-minded ladies from their communities, hoping to drive action for themselves and for each other. I take so much inspiration from all the female founders I am blessed to have in my life.”
Katherine is married to American artist and film producer Andrew Levitas – they married at Hampton Court Palace in 2014 and they have two children, Aaliyah and Xander. Like any working parent, she says it’s a juggle and she hasn’t perfected it yet. “I love being a mum, it is truly the best thing that ever happened to me – it just requires a lot of forward planning and I am very thankful to grandmothers who help out when either Andrew or I have to travel. Aaliyah and Xander are five and seven so there aren’t that many years left when they will want to hang out with us. I’m trying to make the most of that special time now.”
Katherine divides her time between her homes in London and New York, where her husband was born, and still has a home in Wales. “Wales for me will always be about the outstanding natural beauty, places like Three Cliffs Bay and the Gower. I moved to London to study at The Royal Academy of Music when I was 18 and that is also very much home after so many years. I love the depth of art, culture and music that is always on offer in London.”
She says she’ll be enjoying her new tipple in all three locations with family this summer, including barbecues in London, picnics in Wales and on the beach in the Hamptons. When Katherine has some downtime, she says her favourite way to spend it is breakfast in bed with cuddles from her kids, a long walk with a friend, lunch or cocktails with the girls and dinner cooked by Andrew. “It really is the simple things and we tend to run a million miles an hour so downtime usually centres around family, friends, food and of course, drinks!”
Katherine is back in the studio making new music and heading out to Japan, China and Vietnam on tour later this year. She and her husband work with two conservation charities, Prince William’s TUSK and The Wilderness Foundation and will be continuing to support them both here and on the ground in Africa.
She says: “My children see the world in such an honest, open and unique way. They proudly show great interest in conservation and take a personal responsibility for the planet. I want to leave this world in a better place for them.”
Having performed in so many incredible venues and for so many famous faces, what have been her personal highlights? “Honestly there’s nothing like a home crowd. Whenever I get to sing in Wales it’s always quite emotional and makes me want to be my best. I have loved touring South Africa because of all the incredible wildlife and singing at the Sydney Opera House was definitely a bucket-list moment. But some of my favourite people to sing for were our troops in warzones like Iraq and Afghanistan, and created memories I will never forget.”
Katherine says she has been incredibly fortunate to have fulfilled so many of her ambitions. “I adore my job, the live aspect of performing is by far my favourite part and if I can continue to do that, then that’s all I need!”