Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson (born October 27, 1978), known professionally as Vanessa-Mae (in Chinese: 陳美, Chén Měi), is an internationally known British pop and classical 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.
Vanessa-Mae was born in Singapore to a Thai father (Varaprong Vanakorn, who is now a Thai monk) and a Chinese mother (Pamela Tan). After her parents separated, her mother married Briton Graham Nicholson, and the family moved to England when Vanessa-Mae was four years old, but they have separated many years ago. She grew up in London and is a British citizen. She was educated at the independent Francis Holland School in London.
Vanessa-Mae, born October 27, 1978, coincidentally shares her birthday with famed violinist Niccolò Paganini, who was born 196 years earlier on October 27, 1782.
Vanessa-Mae began playing piano at the age of three and violin at five.
She was particularly 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, sexual 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-style album, The Violin Player, was released in 1995.
She performed in the interval of the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest in Birmingham.
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 was said to draw inspiration from great ballets and opera themes. Her new album is now scheduled to be released in 2010