Natasha Hemmings on tour with Aled Jones and Russell Watson
Feminist Natasha Hemmings Says Beliefs That Beauty Pageants Are Demeaning To Women Are Outdated
She is a former Christian beauty queen who entered her first pageant, and found her faith, after brutal bullying at school. A classically trained singer-songwriter who has never been afraid to open up about her religious beliefs. With model-like looks and a voice to die for, Natasha Hemmings will make you reevaluate your expectations of who a modern beauty queen could be.
She studied at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music from the age of 14 and performed Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro in the talent round of the Miss England contest.
Having been crowned Miss England in 2015 at age 19, she put her title on hold for a year working as an ambassador. And having recently completed a series of shows with Ronan Keating, she is now in the midst of a 21-date national tour with classical powerhouse duo Aled Jones and Russell Watson.
“Aled and Russell are lovely and I learned a lot from them on our last tour together in 2019, from how to interact with the crowd to what to order at soundcheck,” he explains.
“We built a very strong friendship and I also became good friends with Russell’s daughter Becky who also came on tour. You really need people on your side.
“When they announced that they would be back on tour, post-Covid, Aled contacted me and said they would love to have me back.
“I am so excited. Christmas is such a special time of the year and it is especially magical for me as a Christian to share the true meaning. I look forward to bringing everyone together by singing our favorite holiday songs and remembering our blessings at this time.”
Miss Cheshire Natasha Hemmings wins the 2015 Miss England final at The Ricoh Arena
Natasha, 26, from Nantwich, Cheshire, found her faith after her first big break at the age of 17.
“He was my first love and he was quite a popular person. Unfortunately, he took the whole school with him and my friends dumped me,” she says.
“I felt so isolated and everyone turned their back on me. I was at an age where I thought I was supposed to be an adult, but I didn’t know how.”
After a particularly nasty episode of bullying, he walked out the school gates and into a nearby church. “I was crying and the people there started praying with me,” she continues.
“When I was younger, I had a friend who was always dropping seeds about faith, and suddenly all these things she had said came to mind. I tried to talk to God for the first time and was soon hooked. My mother I was pretty worried. I was always reading Christian blessing books. But suddenly I had all this hope. I felt that even if I was alone, I wasn’t alone anymore.”
One day, while praying in his room, he felt a “presence” nearby.
Natasha toured with Ronan Keating earlier this year.
“It was like a shadow, a warmth, and it sat on my bed. I couldn’t see a face, but I knew it was Jesus. It has never happened since. I know it was real and I would love to have an experience like that again.”
Unfortunately, when she went off to college, Natasha once again found herself out of step with her peers and once again subject to bullying.
It was then that her concerned mother made a radical decision and entered Natasha into the Miss Cheshire beauty pageant in a desperate attempt to help her depressed daughter make new friends.
“Participating in a beauty pageant was nothing I would have thought of doing, but I was isolated in college and had struggled to make new friends,” Natasha says today. “She lived far from home, didn’t attend conferences, and I felt upset.”
Her mother’s well-intentioned plan to keep her through university failed spectacularly when Natasha won, as it did when she automatically qualified for Miss England and won as well.
“I never expected to win and when I did win, let’s just say I didn’t end up making a ton of new friends. Again, I ended up feeling a bit isolated,” explains Natasha.
Natasha is thrilled to be on tour, and sharing her Christianity, with Aled Jones.
“Being judged for your beauty is a small part of these pageants these days, but I found that a lot of people were prejudging me for doing it. People would think I was a model who woke up one day and decided to become a singer. They didn’t.” I don’t know, I’ve been training since I was nine years old, I found it very sad that other women can judge us for doing something.
“If you earn a beauty title, people perceive your life as perfect. Social media does too. But we need to be more realistic and share the reality in the world of young girls growing up in the shadow of the Kardashians.”
“That’s a big part of being a Christian, too: being a role model for being a real person.”
Natasha did not grow up in a religious family, and few of her friends are Christians.
She says that there are few young people in her church. Meeting Aled Jones was something of a revelation.
“It’s really wonderful that Aled has spoken publicly about her faith, and I really welcome the discussion. I’m really interested in why people believe what they believe,” she says.
“Although I was baptized as a child, I didn’t know much about God and didn’t understand that you could have a relationship with him right now.
“I didn’t know anything. My faith has made me a more understanding person, and the friends I’ve made through my faith are true friends.”
He is currently working on his third album. Tentatively titled Grace, she is the first to be based on faith.
“When I’m not on tour I go to my local church near my home in Cheshire and I always pray before going to bed.
“It’s a way of saying thank you. I also pray before I go on stage, so I’m in a regular conversation with God.”
Some of these experiences inevitably found their way onto their second album, Invisible.
“Each song was inspired by moments in my life,” he explains.
“In today’s world, everyone is creating a ‘perfect’ version of themselves on social media and the real person is ‘invisible’.
“It seems that no one can really be happy when they pretend to be someone else, afraid that they won’t be liked and accepted for who they are.”
Today, Natasha is now determined to fight stereotypes. “When she was Miss England, there was a documentary about feminism versus the pageant, saying that Miss England was stuffy, old-fashioned and demeaning to women,” she says.
“But it’s really important to me to get the message across that it doesn’t make you less of a feminist if you want to wear a dress or embrace your feminine side.
“We shouldn’t have to dress like men to be taken seriously. It was a big deal for me to say that, and I think it hopefully changed the perception of what people think it means to be a feminist.”
Natasha has a twin brother, as well as two stepbrothers and a half-sister, following her mother’s remarriage to the man she has called “dad” since she was six years old.
“I don’t know my biological father,” she says. “I know that there are other children on my father’s side, but he does not allow me any contact with them or with my grandparents.
“It’s hard because he lives in the local area, but I don’t want anyone in my life who doesn’t want to be there.”
His stepfather, a builder, has admirably filled the void in his life with dedicated care and support.
“Mum and Dad have always been there for me. They took me to music school and all the charity things I had to do when I was Miss England.”
She has also found love in the form of Charlie, a salesman, and her boyfriend of eight years, who supports her on tour.
“I love trying to communicate with my audience, and on tour I’ll be talking about the songs I’m singing. Amazing Grace is my favorite. It is a very important song for me as a Christian.
“It’s such an old song and there’s something so magical about it. It reveals the beauty of music, hope and faith.”
Natasha Hemmings would seem to be its living embodiment.
- Natasha is a special guest on Aled Jones and Russell Watson’s National Christmas Tour. For more information and tickets, visit at axs.com
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