Real name: Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson
Birthdate: October 27, 1978
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Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson (born October 27, 1978 in Singapore), known onstage as Vanessa-Mae (in Chinese: 陳美, Chén Měi) is an internationally known British classical and pop musician, especially noted for her violin skills. Her music style is self-described as "violin techno-acoustic fusion", as several of her albums prominently feature the techno style.
In April 2006, Vanessa-Mae was ranked as the wealthiest young entertainer under 30 in the UK in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006. having an estimated fortune of about £32 million ($64 million) stemming from concerts and record sales of over an estimated 10 million copies world wide, which is an unprecedented achievement for a young female violinist.
Vanessa-Mae announced in 2006 that she would be releasing a new album sometime between 2007 and 2008. The album will consist of inspiration from great ballets and opera themes.
Vanessa-Mae was born in Singapore to a Thai father and a Chinese mother. After her parents separated, her mother married Englishman Graham Nicholson, and the family moved to England when Vanessa-Mae was four years old. She grew up in London and is a British citizen.
She was relatively famous in the United Kingdom throughout her childhood making regular appearances on television (for example on Blue Peter) mostly involving classical music and conservative style. According to Guinness World Records, she is the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, a feat she accomplished at the age of thirteen. During this time she attended the Francis Holland School in central London.
Vanessa-Mae made her international professional debut at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany in 1988, and also during 1988 made her concerto debut on stage with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.
On entering adolescence Vanessa-Mae broke away from her traditional classical influences and became known for her flashy, sexy style appearing in music videos in stylish outfits. She appeared on the Janet Jackson album The Velvet Rope playing a violin solo on the song "Velvet Rope". Her first pop styled album, The Violin Player, was released in 1995, and is still regarded as one of the best works of her career.
Some critics have suggested that Vanessa-Mae's technical and musical abilities are in fact unspectacular and that she is merely a typical product of a music industry attempting to use sex appeal to sell commercialised classical music. Still others feel she is doing a disservice to classical music. She retorts that these critics are too traditional and élitist and because they are unable to appreciate her fusion of classical and pop music nor perform music themselves, they resort to vindictive cynicism, like a music critic of the International German DW-TV who called her a "fiddling Lolita". Some media draw comparisons between Vanessa-Mae and the Finnish classical and pop musician Linda Brava because of the use of daring outfits in combination with striking physical qualities on stage.