Charlotte Church looking past phone hacking case
Singer Charlotte Church speaks to the media outside the High Court in London after hearing the reading of a statement setting out the terms of the settlement for phone hacking damages claim against News International, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. Church, who testified before a media inquiry of being hounded by Rupert Murdoch's journalists when she was a teen singing sensation, received 600,000 pounds ($951,000) Monday in a phone hacking settlement from News International and said she had been sickened by what she had learnt about intrusion into her private life. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
DINAS POWYS, Wales (AP) — Charlotte Church's nearly $1 million settlement Monday with Rupert Murdoch's company provides vindication for a former child singing sensation caught in a web of tabloid intrigue as she grew into her teens.
But she does not believe the company's apology was sincere.
Outside London's High Court after receiving 600,000 pounds ($951,000) in a settlement from News Corp.-owned News International, Church attacked the tabloid culture that turned her life upside down: "They are not truly sorry. They are just sorry they got caught."
In a weekend interview with The Associated Press at her home in the village of Dinas Powys in south Wales, Church said she was looking forward to putting her legal troubles behind her and concentrating on her career and her young children.
"I'm a singer," Church said, wearing a casual blue dress while sitting scrunched up in a small chair in her home studio, littered with electric guitars and a couple of dirty plates left by her bandmates.
"I've always wanted to sing. I never wanted to be famous. I always want to perform live, and I've really, really missed that. Hopefully it will be a little bit fairer moving forward."
Church, who debuted at age 11 with an angelic voice that soared to classical song, is now a 26-year-old mother of two. Instead of preparing for what would undoubtedly have been a harrowing trial, she spends her free time in a garage studio next to her home, recording comeback tunes with local musicians.
The tracks-in-progress, covering a range of pop styles, are a reminder that before she was tabloid fodder — characterized as a loose teenager with a fondness for booze and cigarettes — she was a showstopping vocalist who had performed for a pope and a president and become a regular on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Her voice still soars, seemingly without effort, despite the occasional cigarette.
Church keeps the studio locked, along with the gate that blocks her driveway, and she doesn't talk freely on the telephone. Suspicion is a residue of the phone hacking scandal, even if reporters no longer hide in her bushes or tap her phone messages.
Church's life offers a case study of the perils of child stardom. She sold out concert halls, made millions from record sales — and became an obsession with the tabloid press. Reporters dogged her every step, eavesdropped on her communications and published shock headlines about her family based on the flimsiest leads.
She said she had wanted the case to be brought to trial but was reluctant to again become the focus of attention for Murdoch's lawyers and reporters. She also said she was concerned about possibly being held responsible for Murdoch's extensive legal costs if the case did not go her way.
"I felt sick to my stomach at what I'd been put through, and what my parents had been put through for this company's gain," she said.