Reinventing herself as a classical musician and a TV presenter after the sudden rise and fall of Hear'Say, Myleene Klass has gone on to become one of the U.K.'s most popular entertainment personalities. Born in Gorleston, Norfolk, in 1978 to an Austrian-English father and Filipina mother, Klass grew up in a musical family. Her father came from six generations of classical musicians, with her grandmother an opera singer and her grandfather a violinist. She learned to play the piano and violin at the age of four, studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music, and went on to study drama and musical theater at the Royal Academy of Music, where she met talent scout Charlie Edge, who guided her early career. She performed backing vocals for k.d. lang, Michael Crawford, and Robbie Williams, made her West End theater debut in Miss Saigon, and appeared on TV as part of Cliff Richard's "Millennium Prayer" choir.
In 2000 she auditioned for Popstars, ITV's groundbreaking talent search contest, and after impressing judges with her musical ability, earned a place in the final five, Hear'Say. The band scored two number one singles and a number one album, and embarked on a 37-date sold-out arena tour. But their second album failed to make the Top 20, Kym Marsh left the group amid reports of fights with Klass, and the wave of support they initially received quickly dissolved. By the time of comeback single "Lovin Is Easy," on which Klass had her first lead vocal, the group had become an easy target for critics, and Hear'Say disbanded months after. A year later, Klass burst into tears in an interview on The Frank Skinner Show when recalling the hostility she had received on the street from the general public.
After signing a five-album deal with Universal Classics and Jazz, her first single, "Toccato and Fugue," became the first classical track to appear on music television channel The Box. Her debut album, Moving On, a collection of reworkings of popular classical pieces and modern pop tracks, reached number two in the classical charts and number 33 in the album charts, and was nominated for People's Album of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards. In 2005 she performed in The Vagina Monologues and presented the long-running ITV chart show CD:UK, but it was her appearance on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here a year later that endeared her to the nation. Her high-profile status led to a new album deal with EMI Classics, a slot on Classic FM's Sunday Breakfast show, and several successful advertising campaigns. In 2007 her Myleene's Music for Romance album, a choice of her favorite classical pieces, reached number one on the classical charts, as did the follow-up, Music for Mothers. Klass has since fronted several prime-time TV shows, including The One Show and Last Choir Standing. ~ Jon O'Brien