Weeks after joyfully announcing her pregnancy mid-concert, Welsh vocal powerhouse Charlotte Church shared the devastating news on Monday that she lost the baby. Due in November, the child would have been the 31-year-old’s third, and her first with longtime romantic partner—and current musical collaborator—Jonathan Powell. The heartbroken star received an outpouring of emotional support and kind words from her legions of fans, many of whom have followed her for decades.
Church first emerged on the international stage in the late ‘90s as a child prodigy. Barely into her teens, albums like Voice of an Angel and her self-titled disc shot up the classical charts, as she stunned listeners by wringing every ounce of emotion from lyrics in English, Welsh, Italian, French and Latin.
At the turn of the millennium she began to incorporate more pop into her repertoire, using her vocal prowess to tackle Broadway show tunes and soundtrack classics. By 2002, the 16-year-old lowered the curtain on her classical career with a greatest hits album, Prelude. Her next release, 2005’s Tissues and Issues, would be a primarily pop-centric venture. The album sold respectably in her native UK, but it failed to reach the same degree of success in the United States and abroad.
Her music career largely took a backseat for the next few years as Church focused on her Channel 4 chat program, The Charlotte Church Show, and the birth of her two children. Ruby Megan, her daughter with Welsh rugby player Gavin Henson, was born in September 2007, followed by a son, Dexter Lloyd, in January 2009. More than the TV show, she focused on how to just be normal. Famous for most of her life, Church had to cope with the ceaseless intrusion of the world press. She later described photographers installing hidden cameras outside her home and following her every move in cars and on foot. Her first pregnancy leaked to the press before she even had a chance to tell her parents.
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Her split from Henson in the summer of 2010 provided the spark for her most recent full length to date, Back to Scratch. The title track was originally inspired “by problems facing a family member,” but she later admitted in a press release that the breakup was a catalyst for the music. “It became the perfect song for my situation so I sing it with a lot of conviction,” she said at the time. Shortly after, she began her relationship with Powell, which is still going strong.
She has released a string of EPs since 2012 (the sequential ONE, TWO, THREE and FOUR), but recently she’s been making a splash as the frontwoman of Late Night Pop Dungeon, a kaleidoscopic, jukebox-on-acid covers review that blends disco, ‘90s R&B, and stadium rock anthems with Church’s trademark soprano. Veterans of Glastonbury and numerous other UK festivals, Church says that the career left turn has encouraged her to embrace the new and the unusual. “It’s like a pressure valve for the audience,” she said of her act during an interview with the Guardian in May. “But it’s also a big warm hug.”
Church’s life today is a stable balance of performance and domesticity, sometimes rehearsing with Late Night Pop Dungeon, other times teaching her homeschooled children. “My house is spotless. I love jet-washing. There are members of my family who are ill at the moment so generally I’m running around,” she told the Guardian. “We’ve got two dogs. We travel. And we just try to have lots of fun.”
In the midst of planning a new album for next year, she told the Guardian that she felt “brilliant” about the impending birth of her third child. “It’s great, it’s lovely. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a party girl again.” Only 21 when she first became a mother, she admitted that “it feels very different this time around.”