“The plan was always that eventually we would do things on our own,” says Charlotte Jaconelli, one half of Jonathan and Charlotte, probably the most successful duo to ever come from a British talent show.
It was a duo that took the 2,000-strong audience by absolute storm during their initial audition on Britain’s Got Talent, bringing everyone, including the judges, to their feet within seconds.
Perhaps even more of a shock was the fact that Charlotte made Simon Cowell eat his words. Having originally suggested that Jonathan ditch Charlotte to throw more light on his classically trained voice, he’d totally changed his mind by the duo’s second performance. He could hear that Charlotte’s effortlessly pure voice was an intrinsic part of the deal. He admitted he was wrong. It may only ever happen that one time so make the most of it
“When we first started singing, the duets were a bit of a novelty for us, something that we’d do at the end of a show at school or in a church hall,” Charlotte continues, with the down-to-earth warmth and charm of an Adele and the pretty dark looks of a young Martine McCutcheon.
“When I put in for us to go on Britain’s Got Talent, I didn’t tell Jonathan,” she says, explaining that she and Jonathan had known each other since the age of 11, singing together since she was 13.
“We even forgot to go to the first audition. Then they got in touch and said we had another chance, which I took as a sign,” she says Incredible, bearing in mind not only the reaction they got at that audition but also the fact that they could sell out that same Britain’s Got Talent venue on their own a couple of months later – “That was very humbling” - while simultaneously selling a quarter of a million copies of their first album, ‘Together’, which they started to record two days after the final of BGT.
So, why the split after the mega-selling ‘Together’ and the follow up gold album ‘Perhaps Love’?
“We had started to talk about our third album,” says Charlotte, “and it quickly became obvious that there wasn’t enough material to suit both our voices together as they are right now”she explains. Nothing acrimonious, it’s just that as solo singers that had come together for a particular show, they were coming from different places now - and wanted to go to different places. They’re still firm friends and still live ten minutes up the road from each other.
“We needed to break out and do our own thing,” she says, “but we certainly haven’t put anything in the way of coming back and doing something else together in the future.”
“Jonathan, having studied at the Royal Academy, was obviously into classical music whereas the first classical I’d ever sung was on Britain’s Got Talent,”says Charlotte. “I’ve studied musical theatre since I was four, so I was suggesting songs from classic musicals.”
She’s entirely unashamed of her love for old-school musicals: well, she did go to the same stage school as Julie Andrews. <i>“They’d never let me put my iPod on at house parties, let’s put it that way,”</i> she says in an accent that only slightly betrays her Essex background.
Growing up in an ordinary working class family (her parents split when she was ten although she appears to have dealt with this well), Charlotte was clear that she wanted to be a performer even as a four-year-old when she started weekend stage school, the very same school where she eventually started teaching a few years later.
When she decided she wanted to go to a performing arts school full time from the age of 16, not only did she have to leave the house at 6am, getting back past 8pm, she also had to work eight-hour shifts on Saturdays and Sundays in a high-street clothes shop to pay for her fares.
However it was all worth it. Having sold hundreds of thousands of albums and filled concert halls together with Jonathan, she’s now embarking on the solo career of her dreams.
The debut solo album she’s been working on showcases her three great loves: musical theatre, contemporary pop and now, thanks to Jonathan, classical. There’s “On My Own” from Les Mis, the Richard Marx song “Right Here Waiting for You” and Neil Sedaka’s classic ballad, “Solitaire”, alongside Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu”. There are also a couple of top-secret big-name duets in the works.
She knows it’s going to be hard work – especially without Jonathan along for the ride – but she’s never been afraid of that. Still living with her mum back in Essex – “I like living at home because there’s always something familiar to come back to - and free food!” – she’ll be juggling photo shoots, video shoots, performances and TV appearances with time with a relatively new boyfriend (an actor), someone she’s known for years.
“I’m very driven when I get my head set on something,” she says (and who can forget how she took the reins when she stepped out on the Britain’s Got Talent stage with Jonathan two years ago?) “I’m very determined and this is what I’m focused on right now. I’m so excited about my solo album and can’t wait to share it with all my fans”.