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Thu Jun 14 13:25:53 EDT 2007

She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar

She was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
Emily Dugan and Kevin Crowley

Just three weeks ago she was working as a ress in a cocktail bar, cleaning
tables for €10 an hour to make ends meet — but now 18-year-old Victoria
Hart, an amateur jazz singer, is set to sign a €2.2m record deal with one of
the world's most prestigious labels.

It took just one recommendation — from a friend who saw her singing one
night in the Naked Turtle restaurant and bar in Richmond, south-west London
— for the aspiring jazz musician from Essex to land a dream gig singing for
the stars aboard George Clooney's yacht in Cannes.

The next thing she knew Victoria, who describes herself as “just a little
blonde girl”, was being fought over by record giants EMI, Universal and BMG,
who are all touting her as the next big thing in the world of jazz.

“A friend of a friend who saw me sing at work said he'd put my name forward
to sing at George Clooney's party, but I just thought, ‘yeah, right',” said

“When I found out I’d got the gig, all I could think was, Norah Jones is
down in Cannes, why didn't they ask her? Here I am with every major record
label fighting over me – it's unbelievable,” she said. The concert in Cannes
was certainly a good place to get noticed by the rich and powerful of the
music world. Swapping her apron for an £800 Moschino dress – the money for
which she had to borrow from a friend – Hart sang for free in front of a
star-studded audience that included Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Angelina

George Clooney, who told the performer she was “simply lovely”, was hosting
the party on his £80m yacht to raise money for aid in Darfur. Guests paid up
to £100,000 a ticket.

The media furore surrounding her performance is all a far cry from Hart's
normal life. Until now, her biggest break had been a gig as a wedding

Corinne Bailey Rae The Leeds singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae started
work as a hat-check girl in her local jazz club. After studying literature
at university she took on the work while she carried on with her music. The
club soon allowed her on stage on slow evenings. And after several years of
performing she was finally given her own slot.

Even then she was juggling separate jobs in a department store and a
restaurant. But it was these performances that led to her eventual record
deal with EMI and her hit single Put Your Records On.

Before working at the club the 28-year-old had been a die-hard indie
performer. “I kept hearing this jazz and soul stuff and I realised I loved
that music too ...”

Mary J Blige Karaoke may have closer ties with drunken holiday nights-out
but in 1988 it helped launch the career of one of the world's biggest R& B
stars. Mary J Blige was just 17 when she recorded Caught Up In The Rapture
by Anita Baker at a karaoke studio in a Bronx shopping mall.

The tape was eventually passed to Andre Harrell, who launched the careers of
LL Cool J and Run DMC, and initially he decided to recruit the songstress as
a backing singer for Uptown Records. But soon he realised that Blige had
more to offer and matched her up with Sean Combs, also known as P Diddy, who
produced her first album, What's the 411? Two years later My Life confirmed
her as a major new presence in the mainstream charts.

Oasis It wasn't their gig, but they didn't care. When a 21-year-old Liam
Gallagher turned up at a Glasgow venue on a tip-off that the head of
Creation Records was going to be there, the budding rock

star and his mates from the Burnage estate threatened to smash up the venue
if they were not allowed to play.

Fearing the worst, the organisers begrudgingly let the gatecrashers open the
night, and indie label chief Alan McGee was so impressed that he ran
backstage before they were snapped up by any other producers.

Twelve years later the band were named by Guinness World Records as the most
successful UK act of the last decade, having sold 50 million albums
worldwide. Avril Lavigne Avril Lavigne's first album, Let Go, sold more than
13 million copies worldwide, but the Grammy-nominated Canadian punk rocker
was first spotted singing country covers in Ontario bookshop.

In 2002, when she released her debut single, Complicated, aged just 17,
there were very few signs of her country and western beginnings.


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