Welsh singer Charlotte Church appears to have fallen on hard times as she played a free gig to a handful of students – in a university SPORTS HALL.
The Voice of an Angel star was due to perform at a 550-capacity venue in Wolverhampton on Thursday evening – but had only sold half of the ticket allocation.
So in a desperate effort to drum up support for her night-time appearance the 27-year-old took to the stage during Wolverhampton University’s FRESHER’S FAIR.
But despite swapping the Royal Albert Hall for the sports hall to showcase her new material the evening gig at Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms was still half empty.
The former opera singer’s latest appearance is a far cry from her previous performances for the likes of the Pope, Nelson Mandela and The Queen.
Onlookers said the former child star – whose debut album also sold more than ten million copies – appeared on stage looking “frumpy” and sporting “bedraggled ginger hair”.
One student, who watched her perform at the freshers’ fair earlier that afternoon, said: “She looked a state to be honest, her hair was a right mess, it was all bedraggled and bright ginger.
“I hadn’t heard she was going to be there so it was a shock when I walked into the hall and she was shouting her head off singing rock.
“It was a bit weird to see someone who was once so famous and a world star having to sing in front of a few students to try and get people to go to her gig.
“It all looked a bit desperate and sad. You could’ve mistaken her for a student. She looked a bit frumpy too.”
Church, who was born in Llandaff, Cardiff, became an international superstar at the age of just 13 when her debut album ‘Voice Of An Angel’ was released.
That album, as well as her 1999 self-titled second album and her 2000 Christmas collection all achieved platinum status in America.
The Welsh songbird then moved into mainstream pop and had a hit single with ‘Crazy Chick’ which reached number 2 in the official UK charts.
She also performed for Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton during her years as a classical singer.
But speaking after the half-full gig on Thursday night, mum-of-two Church said she is prepared for a ‘difficult road’ to convert people to her latest sound.
Joking that she would never return to classic musical, Church said: “I’m too far gone.
“When you are singing classical you are singing something that has been sung by thousands of people before you, of varying abilities and styles.
“There’s only so much you can re-interpret something.
“The way I am doing things now I get to write and create and do something new.
“I find it way more fun.
“A lot of people coming to see me are confused about what it is going to be. Maybe they don’t know how I’ve changed.
“Some people can definitely expect a rude awakening.
“I think it’s going quite well. It’s sort of slow but I always knew it was going to be a difficult road to take.
“I’m just thankful for people taking the time to come and have a listen and give me the time of day really.”
The former child star also insisted she doesn’t miss her time in the spotlight.
She added: “It was difficult to comprehend at the time because I was so young. As a child I even sung at George Bush Jr’s inauguration.
“I just prefer this. It’s really cool. It’s a transitionary period – it’s confusing for some people, but I’m having a blast.”
And Church’s new rock image grabbed the interest of some of the 225 fans who turned up to see her in Wolverhampton.
Dad-of-three David Biggs, a retired project manager from Shifnal, Shrops., said: “I’ve always liked her.
“She has lots of talent and she started classically but she’s obviously diverted now.
“I think she’s great. I’ve always thought she was ballsy and I wish her every success.”