From the age of six, music and performance has been a very big part of Kirstern Orsborn’s life. Born and raised in the small village of Tonna in Neath near Swansea in South Wales, Kirsten’s home was always awash with the sound of music and, with her grandfather constantly serenading her, the young girl soon caught the bug.
Confined to home after breaking her leg, Kirsten found music the perfect way to while away the hours, singing along to the soundtrack of Mary Poppins. With her older brother Darren already treading the boards as a comedian, Kirsten was keen to follow in his footsteps as a performer. As soon as the cast came off, Kirsten joined Darren on stage for her first-ever public performance, singing the Millie Small classic, ‘My Boy Lollipop.. After a standing ovation, and not a dry eye in the house, Kirsten was hooked, and although a daunting prospect, she knew exactly that singing and performing in front of people was what she wanted to do.
Later on during her time in comprehensive school, Kirtsen’s singing ability gave her the chance to perform in many venues, such as the St David’s Hall in Cardiff and the reopening of Neath’s historic Gwyn Hall. And by Year 10, she was presented with the Rotary Award from the local council after performing and raising money for over 30 charity events in one year.
Three times a year, every year, from the age of six, Kirsten has performed at an annual charity show at The Grand Theatre in Swansea, and on one occasion was fortunate enough to be asked backstage to meet Jimmy Osmond and has performed with a great many people since, such as Luck Friend, Ragsy, Cai Williams, Shellyan, Shaheen Jafaqoli and Lloyd Daniels.
Other performances have taken her to St David’s Hall, The Millennium Centre, Cardiff, The Little Theatre Cardiff, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, Armed Forces Events 6 years running, La, La Piano Bar, London, The Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, the Dylan Thomas Theatre, the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot. BBC TV, ITV, Nickelodeon, and holiday parks across the UK,
Hotels, as well as numerous corporate events, hotels and weddings. During her school days, Kirsten also enrolled at the Mark Jermain Stage School to both help further her craft and gain acting experience, leading, to a best All Round Performer award. This soon got her performing with Tommy Steele in a stage production of Dr Doolittle. Kirsten travelled to London for numerous auditions for stage and television, resulting in appearances in many television adverts, including one with Harry Hill for Boots, as well as children’s television programmes such as Nickelodeon and Crush along with the TV series Rush Hour starring Amanda Heart. She also appeared with her brother in Richard Hammond’s Sky TV show Brainiac.
With such a busy work schedule, Kirsten barely gets time to herself to relax, but when she does find the time she likes to be at home with family, eating great food and spending cosy nights enjoying classic films like Dirty Dancing and Grease, and watching and reading about the true life stories of inspirational people like Audrey Hepburn, Jonny Cash, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra.
Kirsten adds: “I like to do some fun things like crazy golf, watch car racing, as I am a bit car mad which not many people would expect, I especially love ‘50s cars like the 55 Chevy. I’ve always enjoyed sketching and drawing, so if I do get some relaxing time, I tend to go into my own little world and create a new little drawing, painting or something. I always look forward to family vacations in the sun to totally chill out, and do nothing but eat, and swim in the pool and maybe a little bit of shopping here or there.”
Now with a Kirsten feels eternally grateful for all the help and support that has come her way.
She says: “My family has been the biggest support anyone could ever ask for and have helped me to get to my dreams! Without my family and friends, and the support from local radio stations and magazines, I wouldn’t be where I am today! All the way through school and college, I really suffered with bullying, I hoped college would be my time to get away from all the bullying and problems, but I was wrong, so I decided to do what was best for me, and I left, becoming self-employed, and it was the best decision I have ever made!
“I absolutely love travelling, performing in new places and meeting incredible people along the way, I can’t wait to see where my career takes me next! I never thought it was possible to do what I do today, but something I have learnt is to never let anyone change who you are, to believe in yourself and in your dreams, and that nothing is impossible. If you’re willing to work hard enough, then you can do whatever you want to and live your dreams to their full potential.
However, it is her association with the Armed Forces that Kirsten has become best known for.
In 2009, At the age of 13, Kirsten was invited to perform at the Sunderland Armed Forces Day, and earned some rave reviews with some papers labeling her the new ‘Forces Sweetheart’ . This would go on to be a recognised title in 2014 when she was adopted by The Royal Marines as their official Forces Sweetheart, following in the footsteps of great singers such as Dame Vera Lynn and Katherine Jenkins. It’s an award that Kirsten is incredibly proud of and she has vowed to always support the forces in whatever way she can. She has even been contacted by Dame Vera (see picture, left), who has commended Kirsten for the work she does for our services.
She has since become something of a regular at Armed Forces Day events, with her performing at Bristol, Cardiff and Caerphilly Castle. Kirsten also released the single ‘April Wine’ which she dedicated to BLESMA (The British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association) followed by ‘Never Stop Believing’ for The Royal Marines Association.
Despite an ever increasingly full diary, Kirsten continues to perform for servicemen and their associated charities whenever she can, including the Lympstone
Commando Training Base Sergeants Mess Christmas Ball, The Royal Hospital Of Chelsea SSAFA’sannual Summer Ball, the Royal Marines Association of South Wales yearly events, the Patsy Cullen Award ceremony for services in the D-day landings, One memorable performance was at the South Wales Evening Post Pride Awards, where she appeared with the inspirational Elaine Kidwell who received an award for services in the Swansea Blitz.
In further recognition of her work, Kirsten has also been made patron of the Former Veterans Art Festival Project and veteransradio.net. Indeed she is tireless in her support of many charities, often influenced by the experiences of friends and family. These include Help the Heroes, Childline Cymru, Cancer Research, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Loughor Lifeboat appeal, Wales Air Ambulance, Morriston Hospital Head Injury Department and Swans4cancer.
Above, left: Kirsten with Ruth Madoc, patron of the limbless veterans charity BLESMA. Above, right: Kirsten with a Chelsea Pensioner during her first visit to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea in 2014. Right: Kirsten with Elaine Kidwell at the 2016 South Wales Evening Post Pride Awards
“When I was in school, I was afraid to show and be who I really am, but now I am 100% and I’ve never been happier. I’m not afraid to be funny and goofy, I’m not scared about what people may think if I wear something that looks like it’s from the ‘50s, or if my hair is super curly or back combed that little bit too much! Be who you want to be, and push yourself every day to be the best you can be.”
While many of her peers dream of becoming the next Rhianna or Adele, many of Kirsten’s heroes and heroines come from an earlier musical age. Performance-wise, Audrey Hepburn’s strong personality, beauty, compassion and commitment to hard work has been a great influence. Vocally and musically, Kirsten has been inspired by the late, great, Karen Carpenter – indeed, ‘I Won’t Last a Day Without You was one of the first songs she ever performed as a professional performer.
All of Kirsten’s friends know her for love of 1950s and 1960s music as well as her vintage and retro look, so it’s hardly surprising to find the songs from Grease and Dirty Dancing among her favourites, closely followed by the work of the legendary Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
These loves were reflected in her recent release ‘Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool’ – a song that gives co-written with Al Steel and also Gavin Clifton, who has severe Cerebral Palsy and is unable to speak, and so communicates through his writing. Yje song has a distinctly ‘50s feel to it, but with a contemporary twist to it, and tells of Kirsten’s life to date
But Kirsten is no one-trick pony – and the combination of her stunning voice and warm, down-to-earth personality means that she has that uncanny ability to reach out and engage with audiences of every age. With an extensive repertoire to call upon Kirsten is just as at home performing contemporary pop and dance tunes as she is with the classics of yesteryear. With a new charity single slated to be released before the end of the year, Kirsten’s star is continuing to rise rapidly and 2017 promises even more exciting, with recording deals and TV appearances all in the offing. Catch her if you can – Kirsten Orsborn is a name you are going to be hearing a lot more of.