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Portrait Name: Monica Brett-Crowther CV: Opera singer

Monica Brett-Crowther believes everyone has a gift: and no one has ever been in any doubt about hers. When she was two, her parents played her a recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto: she was so moved that she started crying along to it from her high chair.

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By the age of three she was playing the violin herself; she started singing soon after, and hasn't stopped since. Now 26, the Glaswegian is one of the rising stars of the musical world. In September she accepted an invitation to join France's Opera National du Rhin as part of a musical apprenticeship that will last until July. She is one of eight singers from across the globe who were picked: her cohorts come from countries including Venezuela, Brazil and Korea. ''It is wonderful to be able to sing every day,'' she says. ''To be doing something I love and be getting paid for it is amazing.'' Brett-Crowther's chosen career has involved hard graft, with seven years of professional training including time studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and the University of Toronto in Canada. ''It is quite a long time - a bit like training to be a doctor,'' she says with a smile. But it has paid off: her vocals will feature on the next Jeff Beck album, and she is also working with the musician Tony Hymas on a composition for voice and string orchestra. ''I realise I am really lucky,'' she says. ''It is wonderful being able to share this gift that I love so much. Everyone has a wonderful talent: and if you find that, you are just the luckiest person in the world.''

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