Hayley Dee Westenra (born 10 April 1987) is a New Zealand singer, Classical crossover artist, songwriter and UNICEF Ambassador. Her first internationally released album, Pure, reached No. 1 on the UK classical charts in 2003 and has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Pure is the fastest-selling international début classical album to date, having made Westenra an international star at age 16. In August 2006, she joined the Irish group Celtic Woman, was featured on their Celtic Woman: A New Journey CD and DVD, toured with them on their 2007 Spring Tour, and was also featured on their DVD, The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection, released in 2008.
Across classical music to easy listening, folk and pop style songs, Westenra has performed songs in English, Irish, Welsh, Italian, German, French, Portuguese, Latin, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Māori.
Westenra has performed for dignitaries all over the world. She is the second youngest UNICEF Ambassador to date and has contributed to charities around the globe.
1 Early life,
2.1 International success,
3 Philanthropy and charity,
4 Voices from other celebrities artists and media,
5 Personal life,
6.1 International studio albums,
6.2 Regional studio albums,
7 Notable tours and concerts,
8 See also,
10 Further reading,
11 External links,
Westenra was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, and is of Dutch and Irish heritage. Her parents, Jill and Gerald Westenra, have two other children, Sophie and Isaac. Westenra's grandmother Shirley Ireland was a singer, and her grandfather was a pianist who also played the piano accordion.
She began performing at age six when she was cast in the lead singing role of "Little Star" in the Christmas play at her school, Fendalton Open Air School. After the show, a teacher who had watched the performance approached her parents to tell them that their daughter was "pitch perfect". The teacher encouraged Westenra to learn how to play a musical instrument; Hayley soon after learned to read music and play the violin, piano, guitar, and recorder. She then began voice lessons and discovered a passion for musical theatre. By age 11, she had performed more than 40 times on stage, but was often given male parts: "I got boy parts quite often. In ballet, there were not enough boys. So they ended up choosing half and half. I got chosen to wear the grey suit and the wig, and not the pretty dresses. In A Christmas Carol, I was Tiny Tim, so I got to be quite a sick, sick boy. There was a severe lack of singing boys and, at the time, it was quite disappointing."
At 12, Westenra entered a professional recording studio to record Walking in the Air, a demo album originally created for friends and family. At first, her parents paid for 70 copies; soon after, 1,000 more were cut for sale, hand-out, and publicity. After finishing her album, Westenra and her sister Sophie busked in Christchurch, giving away a few of the original 70 albums (at the behest of passersby) and selling some of the latter 1000. The pair drew large crowds, and one woman asked the girls if they had ever recorded anything. The woman, a journalist with Canterbury Television, asked Westenra to appear on air.Gray Bartlett, the director of a concert promotion company, saw the show and became interested in working with Westenra. Shortly after, she was offered a recording deal with Universal Records New Zealand. On that label, Westenra, who in the meantime was attending Burnside High School, released a self-titled album of show tunes and light classical songs, as well as My Gift to You, a CD of Christmas music. Following the success of her albums, she was offered and later received lessons from Dame Malvina Major.
Westenra's albums were successful in New Zealand, but she was not well known worldwide until she signed a contract with Decca Records and recorded Pure, a CD of classical, light pop, and traditional Māori songs. Decca's British president was also impressed with her voice when they signed her to the label, saying that she was "captivated by the beauty and expressiveness of her voice."Pure enjoyed record success: it became the fastest-selling international debut album in the history of the UK classical chart, with 19,068 copies purchased in its first week alone, quickly reached No. 1 on the British charts, and entered the UK Pop Chart at #8. Over two million copies of Pure have been sold to date. In New Zealand, Pure has been certified 12x platinum, making her the best-selling artist, regardless of genre, in the country's history.
Pure's success ensured that Decca would take Westenra seriously. Some of her fame today can be directly attributed to the way in which Decca promoted her. Although the traditional audience of classical crossover music is adult women, they also promoted her music to children and teenagers. Westenra recorded the end-title song for Disney's movie Mulan II. They also featured her in the national Radio Disney music education tour for middle-school students. On 24 August 2003, Westenra performed on the stage with opera tenor José Carreras and Bryn Terfel in front of the capacity crowd of 10,000 people from Faenol Festival in Wales.
Decca has also promoted Westenra on television. She took her first acting role on the US programme American Dreams ("Charade"), where she played guitar and sang "Who Painted the Moon Black?". While she was being promoted in Los Angeles, Marc Johnston, senior VP/GM for the Universal Classics Group, said, "When she was out there, people were giving her scripts to read, and she had a few rather impromptu auditions. So some film and TV roles are currently in the works." In 2005, she was featured in the song "Bridal Ballad" recorded for the movie The Merchant of Venice. In 2006, she was featured on the motion picture soundtrack for The New World with the song "Listen to the Wind".
Westenra was the 2004 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards winner of "Highest Selling New Zealand Album" and "International Achievement Award". On 20 February 2004, Prime Minister Helen Clark awarded her for being the first New Zealand artist to receive the tenfold platinum status in the New Zealand market, where she held the number one artist position for 18 weeks. She has won two Japanese Grammies for her work (Song of the Year, "Amazing Grace" and Album of the Year, Pure). Her version of Amazing Grace was used as the theme song for the popular Japanese drama, Shiroi Kyoto (The White Tower). Hayley met the cast of the series during a promotional tour of Japan in October 2003.
Also in 2004, she began her world tour of New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA and Britain, performing in a concert in November for Her Majesty The Queen, the Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Prince of Wales, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and the President at the time George W. Bush. In her autobiography, she remembered feeling more nervous in an audition where she sight read to Andrew Lloyd Webber an unreleased piece that he had written. On 28 July 2004, Westenra and American tenor James Doing staged Wisconsin concert with Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and broadcast by Wisconsin Public Television. She concluded 2004 with a Christmas tour of the East Coast of the United States as guest soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
In 2004, Westenra was recorded a live DVD, Hayley Westenra: Live from New Zealand, featured duet with baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes and soprano Sophie Westenra in St. James Theatre. David Horn, the producer of her live TV special, which aired on PBS' Great Performances, said, "Her singing is so gorgeous, it's reminiscent of the great boy-soprano sound of Anglican church choirs."
In 2005, she released a new album, Odyssey. A mix of classical, pop, Celtic, and New Age music, she co-wrote and arranged some of the tracks on the album, which was released in the United States on 18 October 2005. A more recent version of Odyssey containing several recordings not on the original album was released in the United Kingdom on 10 April 2006, her 19th birthday. On 18 December 2005, she made an appearance on Kurt Browning's programme Gotta Skate, in which she performed with Andrea Bocelli.
Westenra spent the first half of 2006 performing as a supporting act for the pop-opera quartet Il Divo on a worldwide tour, though in March she performed solo concerts in the US as well. That tour officially ended in June, but was then extended by six performances. She then held several concerts in the UK and Germany through the end of the northern summer. On 5 September 2006, Westenra was named as one of the ten outstanding young people in the world by the Junior Chamber International, becoming the first New Zealander so honoured.
On 13 November 2006 she participated in the dedication of the New Zealand War Memorial in London. Three of Westenra's great-uncles served in World War II; one was killed.
After releasing Pure, Westenra and her family moved to London. She continues to reside in a central London flat, even though her family subsequently returned home to Christchurch. Although she spent most of 2006 touring, she did visit them when her schedule allowed.
In August 2006, Westenra joined Celtic Woman and is featured on their second major DVD/CD album, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, which was released 30 January 2007 and immediately hit the Billboard Top 200 music chart at #4. She toured with the group in the United States in 2007, with scheduled appearances in 88 venues across the country; the tour ended in June. During this time, Hayley alternated with Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, who had recently returned from maternity leave, to maintain a five-member line-up. She also got along well with another member, Chloë Agnew, who was at the time only 17 years old.
Among 2006 Canterbury Festival (27 Oct), Westenra successfully staged Cathedral concert with tenor Alfie Boe in the Canterbury Cathedral.
Westenra's third international album, Treasure, was released on 26 February 2007 in the UK. All the songs on this CD were chosen by Westenra, who gave her record company "no say in the matter. I basically didn't let them in on what I was recording until the last minute so they had no choice. I didn't give them much room to disagree." Tracks on this album include "E Pari Ra", "One Fine Day", "Let Me Lie", "Danny Boy", and "Abide with Me". Westenra co-wrote four of the fifteen tracks, and the album also features singer Humphrey Berney. The US/Australia/NZ edition followed in March under the name Celtic Treasure. Westenra dedicated the album to her grandmother, Shirley Ireland. Inside the sleeve of the British edition, she wrote "I come from a musical family, and one with a real sense of history. My forefathers were on the maiden voyage from Ireland to Christchurch, New Zealand in 1850 - there's even a commemoration plaque in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, which bears the name Westenra. My grandmother used to sit me on her knee and sing songs like Danny Boy from as early as I can remember. A singer herself in her earlier years, she has always been a never-ending source of songs. It's this legacy of music that she's been passing down to me since my childhood, and it's many of these beautiful old songs that I've explored here on my album."
On the day before St. Patrick's Day 2007, she performed as part of Celtic Woman for President George W. Bush at the White House. She had plans to present the president with a petition to place a mandatory carbon cap on the United States. The goal of the petition was compliance with the commitment made by President Bill Clinton in previous years to follow the Kyoto Protocol. However, she was not able to present the petition because the president was rushed away after the concert, due to security concerns.
On 6 May 2007, Westenra was invited to the Crystal Cathedral as a guest performing "Abide with Me" on the Hour of Power American Christian television program, She performed there twice before, the first time singing "Amazing Grace", and the second time, "I Say Grace".
Westenra starred as Maria in the 2007 recording of West Side Story, which was released on 30 July. On 28 July, she starred in Woburn LIVE 2007, where she performed a selection of the music of West Side Story with the other recording artists, including Vittorio Grigolo, from the 2007 release.
In 2007, Hayley's vocals were featured in the soundtracks of the movie Flood and the television series, Jekyll, composed by Debbie Wiseman, in the UK.
In Nov 2007, Hayley Westenra successfully staged Japan "treasure" concert tour in Fukuoka, Sapporo, Tokyo, Sendai, Nagoya, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima.
In June 2008, Hayley released an album for Japan, called Hayley Sings Japanese Songs. The songs include popular Japanese songs sung in English, and some in Japanese. Amazing Grace is performed as a duet with the late Minako Honda, in English and Japanese. A second Japanese album, Hayley Sings Japanese Songs 2, was released in March 2009, with a "mother" theme. All of the songs are about her gratefulness to her mother. She wrote, This album is dedicated to my loving mother...thank you. On 7 August, Westenra performed solo and duet with Dame Malvina Major at St James's Church, Piccadilly among ChristChurch Cathedral Choir 2008 UK Tour. On 17 August, Westenra participated in the tribute concert Lyrics by Don Black, which was held at the London Palladium and featured performances of Black's songs by a selection of guest artists. She sang the duet Amigos Para Siempre, the score of which was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with Jonathan Ansell. The evening, hosted by Michael Parkinson was recorded by BBC Radio 2 Friday Night is Music Night and broadcast on 22 August 2008.
The song "Prayer", composed by Secret Garden and performed by Westenra, is featured in the Nintendo Wii videogame Endless Ocean as well as its advertising. Westenra also contributed several other songs, including her rendition of the Māori folk song "Pokarekare Ana".
On 1 October 2008, Westenra recorded as solo vocals in the CD "Different Voices" composed and conducted by Debbie Wiseman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with narration by Stephen Fry and lyrics written by Don Black. On 8 November, Westenra performed at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, singing Today Won't Come Again, written by Geoff Stevens and Don Black, with English tenor Jonathan Ansell, and accompanied Ansell on Here's to the Heroes, by Black and John Barry, when returning soldiers proceeded into the auditorium. On 30 November, Westenra was presented by Elaine Paige with the Variety Club Showbiz Awards 2008 Classical Performer of the Year for raising money to help sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people.
On 16 July 2009, she performed at the Opening Ceremony of the World Games 2009 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan before 45,000 stadium audiences and numerous worldwide TV audiences. She sang several songs including Amazing Grace, The Prayer in English & Italian with Russell Watson, Pokarekare Ana in Māori with Russell Watson, We Are The Champions with other stars, Japanese translated song Nada Sousou (Tears For You) and 'The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心) in Mandarin Chinese with SuJianXin. On 29 August, Westenra led the traditional singing of Abide with Me at the Rugby League Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
On 7 November 2009, Hayley performed at the Festival of Remembrance, singing We'll Meet Again, made famous by Dame Vera Lynn during WWII, at the Royal Albert Hall. During the performance, an old recording of Lynn performing the song was played behind on the big screen. Lynn was present, as well as Her Majesty the Queen.
On 5 February 2010, Westenra performed "Silent Night" on the soundtrack of Nativity! Later that year, on 30 October, Westenra staged a recital at the Shanghai Grand Theatre with international backing musicians in an east Asian concert tour. On 13 November, Westenra performed at the Festival of Remembrance, singing "For the Fallen", a poem by Laurence Binyon set to music by Karl Jenkins. It is featured on the special 10th anniversary edition of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.
Westenra's face adorns publicity for the southwest London rugby union club Quintin RFC.
In the spring and summer of 2010, Hayley began working with film composer Ennio Morricone for a collaboration on her album Paradiso. The album featured new songs written by Morricone, as well as some of his best known film compositions of the last 50 years. Hayley recorded the album with Morricone's orchestra in Rome during the summer 2010.
In April 2011, Westenra was invited as a guest performer to Mario Frangoulis TV concert in Greek. On May, Westenra was a guest performer on Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli's The Magic of Love Asian concert tour, Westenra and Bocelli collaborated on one of Westenra's albums Odyssey and live performances before. On Memorial Day, 29 May, Hayley was invited to perform for the annual PBS special, the National Memorial Day Concert live in Washington, DC. She performed the song Pie Jesu following the emotional story of a woman who had never met her father, who died in the Vietnam War, but got to know him many years later through a soldier who had fought alongside him. On 9 July, Westenra was invited as a guest performer to Joseph Calleja's annual concert in Malta. On 22 July, Westenra was among artists performing with the BBC Concert Orchestra in an American West-themed show from a BBC radio concert programme Friday Night is Music Night. On 24 July, Westenra staged the 61st King's Lynn Festival concert with Daniel Boys and performed classical repertoire including new songs from Paradiso. On 27 July, Kiwi songbird Hayley Westenra has been announced as the voice of UK broadcaster ITV's coverage of this year's Rugby World Cup, with her special version of World in Union. On October, Songs of Praise broadcast "Whispers in a Dream" and "Amazing Grace" performed by Westenra in Salisbury Cathedral. On 23, Westenra performed the New Zealand national anthem "God Defend New Zealand" at Eden Park in Auckland before the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and also performed the traditional New Zealand song "Now Is the Hour" to bring the event to a close. On 31, Westenra was featured on André Rieu classical music album And the Waltz Goes On with the only vocal track "Dreaming of New Zealand".
On 12 March 2012, Westenra attended a reception for celebrating the achievements of inspirational women today the event held by the Duchess of Cornwall to mark Commonwealth Day. On 16 March, Westenra was invited to perform and make the presentation to the winner of a Korean live TV show_Operastar. On 22 April 2012, Westenra staged debut concert at the Koncerthuset in Copenhagen. On 28 April, Westenra Performed with Chinese tenor DinYi and NieJianHua on the 2nd Beijing International Film Festival symphony concert at Olympic Green accompanying by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In May 2012, Westenra was featured with Laura Wright and Alfie Boe on a souvenir album "Gary Barlow & The Commonwealth Band" for celebrating Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. On 14 June, Westenra staged a concert with RTÉ Concert Orchestra and David Brophy at National Concert Hall in Dublin. On 21 June, Westenra performed at Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis' Boston Symphony Hall concert accompanying by Boston Pops Orchestra. On November, Westenra was a guest performer on the David Foster & Friends' Far East tour.
On April 2013, Westenra staged a Far East tour in Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung and performed with Chinese tenor DinYi in Beijing.
Philanthropy and charity:
Westenra is active in contributing to charities around the world.
On 26 November 2003, Westenra performed "Pokarekare Ana" and "Amazing Grace" on the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Variety Performance show in the presence of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on behalf of the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund.
Westenra is the second youngest UNICEF Ambassador to date, behind Selena Gomez. In 2005, Westenra visited Ghana to publicise her project, "Bikes for Ghana", and actively helped with fundraising to purchase bicycles for young girls, allowing them to get to their schools from outlying surrounding areas. When she was later interviewed about this charity work, she had this to say, "I met girls who had been given bikes and I could see how much it meant to them. We wanted to borrow one just for a photo and they wouldn't let them go; they were really reluctant".
In 2006, A new Hybrid Tea Rose was named in honour of Hayley Westenra to raise charity funds for UNICEF. The Hayley Westenra Rose won the 2010 Rose of the Year Award and also the best Hybrid Tea Rose Award. In June, She appeared at a fundraiser for UK charity Act Against Bullying.
On 8 June 2007, Westenra performed in a fundraising concert for Bikes for Ghana at the Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent. On 24 February, Westenra took part in the HemiHelp "Children helping Children" concert at the Cadogan Hall, Sloan Square London in front of 900 people, including HRH Princess Alexandra the charity's patron.
In 2008, Westenra was selected by the New Zealand Society to receive the Global Kiwis Young Achiever Award for remarkable achievement in her field of endeavour on a global scale. She has also received numerous awards for her contributions to music, both in New Zealand and elsewhere.
On 25 June 2008, Westenra is the ambassador for Classic FM's charity Music Makers. Hayley says of the partnership "I am thrilled to be the first official charity Ambassador for Classic FM Music Makers. I have seen first hand the power which music can have in changing people's lives, and I can't wait to help all I can." Over the next few months Hayley will be visiting some of the music therapy and education projects across the UK, which Music Makers funds... In September, she visited Ghana again on behalf of UNICEF. She was working on raising funds for one of her favourite projects in Ghana, to install playgrounds for children, with rides that harness "kid power" to drive pumps used for providing clean drinking water from wells in that country. Hundreds of thousands of children have been poisoned by contaminated drinking water in Ghana, and this project is a focus of Hayley's.
On 4 September 2008, Hayley Westenra became a patron of Royal New Zealand Air Force. In Oct, Forces songbird Hayley Westenra help launch the Poppy Appeal with British Armed Forces in Iraq. In Oct, Forces songbird Hayley Westenra and tenor Jonathan Ansell took to the streets to sell poppies at Waterloo Station to support the Royal British Legion. On 12 Nov, Westenra performed "River of Dreams", duet "Today Won't Come Again" with tenor Jonathan Ansell in the Royal Albert Hall for the Annual Festival of Remembrance and was broadcast by the BBC. In November, she was named "classical performer of the year" at the Variety Club's annual awards in London.
She has also been the ambassador for Save the Children in Hong Kong. More recently, she took part in a breast cancer awareness campaign in New Zealand. One of the other charities that she helps is the Women's Environmental Network. Another major charity she supports is the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy, which provides help for children who are disabled.
On 7 September 2009, She joined the Dame Vera Lynn Trust as a Vice-President for this Children with Cerebral Palsy charity. On 22 Oct, Forces sweethearts from the original Second World War Forces sweetheart-Dame Vera Lynn joined by one of today's Forces sweetheart Kiwi songbird Hayley Westenra in launching the Poppy Appeal with a fundraising goal of £31 million. In Dec, New forces sweetheart Hayley Westenra performed with Faryl Smith and Camilla Kerslake in a special service for British troops serving in Afghanistan from St Clements Church, London.
On 7 March 2010, Classical singing star Hayley Westenra lent her support with some other most successful female role models in FMWF's "The Breaking the Mould" conference to inspire a generation of young women to aim high in their careers. On 20 Jun, Hayley Westenra took her role as Forces Sweetheart to the Cotswold Air Show, visiting Kemble to support the work of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. On 6 Oct, Forces songbird Hayley Westenra whose uncle served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force united with British legends for charity CD "We Will Remember Them".
On 3 March 2011, Westenra led one of the national anthems "God Defend New Zealand" in a London Westminster Cathedral vigil service together with about 5,000 Kiwis fundraising charity for her hometown Christchurch, after being devastated by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on 22 February 2011. On 18 March, Westenra performed "Amazing Grace" in the national Christchurch memorial service at Hagley Park of Christchurch in the presence of Prince William, Prime Minister John Key, Bob Parker, Dame Malvina Major, Christchurch Cathedral Choir, dignitaries, international rescue teams and tens of thousands of New Zealanders. On 27 March, Westenra was invited to read out a testimony in the Christchurch memorial service at Westminster Abbey in the presence of The Prince of Wales, The High Commissioner from New Zealand to the United Kingdom and thousands of churchgoers. On 30 March, Westenra attended The News Of The World Children's Champion Awards in London for supporting those people (voted by the public) who have done a brilliant, unsung job for children. On 2 April, Westenra as a Vice-President of the Dame Vera Lynn Trust performed for this Children with Cerebral Palsy charity at the Lancaster London Hotel.
On 29 May, Westenra performed Pie Jesu at PBS's 2011 National Memorial Day concert. On 10 June, Westenra was invited by Prime Minister David Cameron attending Downing Street Poppy Party along with injured Service personnel, bereaved Armed Forces families and veterans of Afghanistan and previous conflicts to celebrate the Legion's 90th anniversary and help raise funds for The Royal British Legion Battle Back Centre. On 20 September, Westenra sang Laurence Binyon's For The Fallen on a service of the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of The Princess Royal, Church of England members and family of Royal Marines. On 5 December, Westenra performed solo "Whispers in a Dream" and duet with Rolando on the Royal Variety Performance show in the presence of the Princess Royal.
To promote Paradiso with peace and love message, Westenra would be embarking the Paradiso Homecoming Tour from 17 September 2011 to 8 March 2012, and would raise charity attention to her UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador appeal and the Christchurch Earthquake Relief fund for supporting Christchurch to revive.
On 24 August 2012, Westenra staged a concert in the Gŵyl Gobaith Music Festival in Wales to support for charities Cancer Research UK, Wales Air Ambulance, CLIC Sargent and HeadtoHeart. In Christmastime 2012, Westenra was featured on the debut album "Starship Christmas Album" along with Justin Bieber, Queen, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Ronan Keating, Michael Jackson, Maroon 5, Adeaze, The Jackson Five, Tiki Taane, OneRepublic and Lucy Lawless for supporting Starship Children's Health. On 30 November, Westenra lent her support to Kate Winslet's Golden Hat Foundation together with Tim Janis, Sarah McLachlan, Loreena McKennitt, Andrea Corr, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Dawn Kenney, Jana Mashonee, Amy Petty and a choir performing on "The American Christmas Carol" concert in Carnegie Hall.
Voices from other celebrities artists and media:
This article contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. Please help improve the article by editing it to take facts from excessively quoted material and rewrite them as sourced original prose. Consider transferring direct quotations to Wikiquote. (August 2013)
In Westenra's childhood, after a Christmas school show, one of her teachers in Christchurch told her parent that their daughter was a pitch perfect vocalist.
Around 2000, Universal New Zealand managing director George Ash, now Universal Music president of Australasia once was impressed by Westenra's "pure, warm, dynamic and angelic" voice and mentioned: "Here was the complete opposite, Hayley in the middle of this pop explosion doing very personal showcases and people would be in tears hearing her sing; it was incredible, she just captivated everyone. Everyone around us from dance DJs to classical purists were in awe of Hayley".
In 2001, Dame Malvina Major mentioned Westenra's voice: "It's absolutely musically true. A lot of young singers have beautiful voices but they have to be guided into that sort of clarity. She has it naturally".
In 2002, Russell Watson commented on Westenra: "The first time I met her in New Zealand, I saw this tiny girl and then this voice came out and it was incredible. The only word that I can use to describe it is angelic. I think she's a phenomenon."
On 10 Jul 2003, UNICEF New Zealand executive director Dennis McKinlay said: "Hayley is a wonderful role model for youth in New Zealand and through her outstanding musical ability she reaches audiences of all ages and nationalities. We hope that with Hayley's help we can generate increasing support for our work and help more children have a better start in life."
On 6 May 2007, Dr. Robert H. Schuller recommended Westenra on the Hour of Power American Christian television program: "You are a wonderful Christian, You know what I can see in you and hear in you besides the purity and professionalism of the great artist's souls - I see and what I can't remember seeing in any other performer such innocence, such humility......you just love people, love Jesus!"
On May 2010, Ennio Morricone stated that: "Hayley Westenra is a rare singer, maybe unique in the international panorama. Her voice and perfect intonation have really struck me. This is already a lot for a composer. Then, working with her, I found out that she is also a great interpreter. I'm sure we'll do a good job together."
On 27 April 2011, Andrea Bocelli commented on Westenra from an interview: "I cooperated with Westenra in duet many years ago when she was a prodigy. But now, she could perform with maturer voice and technique as a professional artist. The admirableness is the pureness and genuineness in her voice keeping on......"
On 29 June 2011, Westenra was described by The Times (Malta) as "a music sensation and a good Samaritan" for her international charity efforts. It also mentioned that she lent herself to the huge fundraising efforts for her hometown Christchurch suffered from earthquake.
From July to August 2011, BBC stations around the UK featured Westenra as one of the biggest artists in contemporary Christian music and celebrated 400 years of the King James Bible.
On 24 October 2012, Westenra was recommended by Chinese XinMin newspaper as "Voice of Angel" on the David Foster & Friends' Far East tour in ShangHai.
Westenra has been known as a vegetarian/pescetarian. In 2007, she was nominated for PETA's 'Sexiest Vegetarian'. However, when touring she sometimes has worried about getting the appropriate amounts of nutrients. She was sometimes unable to obtain the more nutritious vegetables and other foods she preferred, and now on occasions she eats meat. In 2007, Westenra told The New Zealand Herald, "I'm completely bursting the bubble now, aren't I? That's that ruined."
In February 2012 she confirmed that she is engaged to her long-term boyfriend, French sound engineer Arnaud Sabard.