NOBODY expects to meet a Grammy winner at the pub. But a karaoke night brings out all sorts. 

Haslemere-based Janice Watson was sat at the table next to mine at The Golden Fleece in Elstead, and has been described by Music International as “one of the world’s major sopranos, renowned for the beauty of her sound”. 

Studying at the Guildhall School of Music as a flautist and a singer, Janice discovered her talent for opera through mimicking the great opera singers. Her career had a meteoric rise after she won the Kathleen Ferrier Award and the Royal Overseas League at just 23. 

As a Type 1 diabetic, performing in major opera houses all over the world was a challenge and sometimes lonely, but Janice loved it. She won a Grammy for Best Opera Recording for Britten’s Peter Grimes in 1999 at the age of 35. 

In 2011, the same year she was nominated for another Grammy, Janice started a relationship with someone who ate into her self-confidence. 

“Before then I was relying on the audiences to give me the confidence I needed,” said Janice. “Because they loved me, I loved myself.To sing on stage you have to absolutely love yourself. But that was something that had disappeared.”

“I just fell off the podium like stones off a cliff. I got so low that the only thing that stopped me from doing something was my daughter because I loved her so much and didn’t want to hurt her.”

Janice met her current husband in 2017, and he provided the escape she needed. “Now my self-esteem is coming back, and my performing is getting better again. I won’t get back to where I was, but things are getting better. 

“That’s the hardest thing, knowing how good you are. When practicing, we only hear the notes that aren’t perfect, but what we should be listening for are the notes that are.”