Monday, May 7, 2007

Georgia's Own Katie Melua

Ketevan “Katie” Melua (ქეთევან "ქეთი" მელუა) has been compared to such female musical sensations as Joss Stone and Norah Jones, though her career has really only begun. Her blend of jazz and blues styles, filtered through a folk acoustic guitar, have been making waves around the world.

Born in Kutaisi, Georgia in 1984, Katie Melua grew up in Tbilisi, where her grandparents lived, and later moved with her family to the seaside town of Batumi, Ajaria. The family left Georgia when Katie was 8 and moved to Belfast where her father worked as a heart surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Katie went to Catholic schools in Northern Ireland while her younger brother went to a Protestant school. The family moved to Redhill, England in 1998. As a result of her diverse upbringing, Katie speaks three languages: Georgian, Russian and English.

Melua did not always want to be a singer or songwriter; when she was thirteen she aspired to be a politician or a historian. “I honestly thought I'd be able to bring peace to the world,” she once explained, “if I ruled it!” When she was fifteen Melua entered a TV talent competition and won, despite only having entered for fun.

Katie Melua joined the BRIT School for Performing Arts where she undertook a BTEC and Music A-level. Here she discovered a variety of musical styles of music including Queen, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Irish folk music and Indian music. On hearing an Eva Cassidy song she was deeply impressed and, upon discovering that Eva was no longer alive, wrote the song ‘Faraway Voice’ as a tribute. In July, 2003, she graduated with distinction.

Composer/producer Mike Batt visited the BRITs looking for musicians to form a jazz band; on hearing Melua perform ‘Faraway Voice’ he realized he had found something special. “Artists like Katie don’t come along very often; she is a true original.” Katie signed to Batt’s record label Dramatico. In 2003 she met Queen Elizabeth, who told her, “I have heard your record on the radio; it is very nice.”

In November, 2003 she released her debut album, ‘Call Off the Search,’ which hit number 1 in January 2004, knocking Dido out of the top spot and staying there for three weeks. (Temporarily deposed by Norah Jones, Melua returned to the top spot, holding it for another three weeks.)

Katie Melua joined the line up of Band Aid 20 for the new version of the single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas.’ She also works as an ambassador for Save The Children and was asked by Sharon Osbourne to join the recording of Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears In Heaven,’ a fundraising single for the Tsunami appeal.

On 10 August, 2005, she became a British citizen, along with her family. After the ceremony she explained, “As a family, we have been very fortunate to find a happy lifestyle in this country and we feel we belong.” However, “we still consider ourselves to be Georgian, because that is where our roots are, and I return to Georgia every year to see my uncles and grandparents.”

In 2005 she released a second album, "Piece by Piece." She enjoys roller coasters, paragliding, hang gliding and skydiving.

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