Her luminosity on stage and her astonishing vocal range – four octaves – rather showed up Nick Jonas’s more utilitarian pop tones, but she speaks highly of the 18-year-old megastar.‘I learned a lot from Nick; he was so focused that it was quite inspirational,’ she says, although she denies speculation about a romance: ‘Nick is so young that it was a complete no-go area.’The first thing Camilla, 22, did after signing on the dotted line was move out of her shared flat and back home to be with her parents in Kingston upon Thames in Southwest London.
‘It was a no-brainer; living with the people I love the most and who would take care of me was the obvious choice.
But I can’t imagine anyone else showing up day after day for six long weeks.‘Looking back it was a bit mad,’ admits Camilla.
‘I would get up at 6am, do my hair and make-up in case I bumped into Gary, struggle into Central London in the rush hour and then back to music school in Guildford in time for lectures.
Any of these would do, but my personal favourite is how she made a demo using a £2.99 backing track bought on the internet, and then hand-delivered it to the London studios where she knew Take That’s Gary Barlow was recording.
A few persistent souls might have turned up a second or third time to make sure Gary received it.
If Camilla Kerslake’s remarkable young life were to be made into a movie, it would be tough to choose the opening scene.
Camilla played Cosette, a part that is relatively small but crucial to the motivation of the main characters.
I did it every day except Sundays, clutching a copy of the same CD, which featured me singing Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Pie Jesu’.
I also started taking along a basket of muffins for the reception desk, just to be friendly – but at £30 a day for train and tube fares, plus the muffins, it was bankrupting me.’Camilla still has no idea what finally persuaded songwriter Barlow, 39, to listen to her CD at the end of the sixth week, but within hours of doing so he was on the phone to her, and within days she was signed to his new label, Future Records.
‘We lived in some really grotty flats, but in fabulous catchment areas, so I had lots of middle-class friends who would fly to Barbados for Christmas, while I got free school meals and never had a pair of Nike trainers – but I did have lots of love.’As a child she sang constantly, yet she swears nobody noticed, because her mother has a good voice and her Welsh grandmother had once been Shirley Bassey’s arch rival.
While the international diva learned her trade at a Cardiff working men’s club, Camilla’s nan was giving her a run for her money at the Swansea equivalent.