Katie Melua's first album, Call Off the Search, was released
in November 2003 and reached the top of the United Kingdom album
charts. Melua's second album, Piece by Piece, was released in
September 2005 to commercial success.
Ketevan Melua was born in Kutaisi, Georgia in 1984 and spent most of her childhood in the town of Batumi, Ajaria where her father worked as a heart specialist. In 1993, the family moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland, as her father had won a position at the prestigious Royal Victoria Hospital, where she attended St. Catherine's Primary School and Dominican College, Fortwilliam.
The family moved again to Redhill, Surrey, in 1998. At the age of fifteen, Katie Melua won a talent competition on British television channel ITV by singing Badfinger's Without You. In her final years of schooling, she attended the Brit School for the Performing Arts undertaking a BTEC with an A-level in music. Katie Melua started writing songs in 2001 while studying at the school. During this time, she was the girlfriend of Luke Pritchard from the band The Kooks, which is currently having success in 2006. In 2001, aged 16, Melua did a Work Experience placement at the BBC Research and Development Department in Kingswood warren, Surrey. At the BBC, various engineers and professors, noting Katie's sharpness, encouraged her to aim to go to University, but an ambitious Melua replied that she had already decided to be a singer, and begun her song-writing career.
Katie Melua was performing at a Brit School showcase when she caught the eye of Mike Batt, an English songwriter and producer who was looking for an artist capable of singing "jazz and blues in an interesting way". He signed her to his Dramatico recording and management company and sent her into the studio. However, Katie Melua admitted in a recent interview that she had no idea Mike was behind the chart success of cult TV show favorites The Wombles until she saw a cuddly replica of one in his recording studio.
Call Off the Search was released in the UK on November 3, 2003 and featured songs by John Mayall, Randy Newman ("I Think it's Going to Rain Today") and James Shelton ("Lilac Wine") as well as songs by Katie Melua and Batt. It became an immediate hit reaching number-one on the UK album chart in January 2004 and the top twenty of the Australian album charts in June 2004. Lead single "The Closest Thing to Crazy" reached the top five in Ireland, top ten in the UK, top twenty in Norway, top thirty in a composite European chart and top fifty in Australia. In the UK, the album sold 1.2 million copies making it four times platinum, and spent six weeks at the top of the charts. It sold 3 million copies worldwide. In the UK, the second single and title track went Top 20, and the third, Crawling Up A Hill, only got to #41, but this was partially because the majority of people had brought the album by then.
Katie Melua performed with Jamie Cullum in a performance of "Love Cats" at the Brit Awards in February 2004. Melua lent her talents to Band Aid 20 in November 2004 in which she joined a chorus of British pop stars to create a rendition of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" to raise money for famine relief in Africa. This was in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the original Band Aid.
On March 19, 2005, Katie Melua realized one of her childhood dreams by performing the song "Too Much Love Will Kill You" with Queen at the 46664 concert in George, South Africa. In early August 2005, Melua became a British citizen after pledging allegiance to the Queen at a ceremony creating new British citizens. Later that month, she played at a Dutch Royal House wedding.
Katie Melua's second album, Piece by Piece, was released on September 26, 2005. It includes the single "Nine Million Bicycles", which was released on September 19 of the same year. The first UK airplay for the single was on the Terry Wogan show August 1. The album contains four more songs written by Melua herself, four more by Batt, one cooperation between the both and three more songs are new versions of "great songs". The band lineup is the same as on the first album. The album debuted at the number-one spot of the UK Albums Chart on the week of October 3, 2005.
On 30 September 2005, Katie Melua came under criticism in The Guardian from writer and scientist Simon Singh for the lyrical content of the track "Nine Million Bicycles". Melua's lyrics "We are 12 billion light-years from the edge. That's a guess — no-one can ever say it's true" were interpreted by Singh as an assault on the accuracy of the work of cosmologists, and sparked a series of letters from other Guardian readers, agreeing or disagreeing. On 15th October, Katie Melua and Singh both appeared on the BBC's Today program, and Melua unveiled a re-recording of the song which included Singh's tongue-in-cheek amendments to the lyrics, "We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe; that's a good estimate with well-defined error bars/and with the available information, I predict that I will always be with you". Both sides amicably agreed that the new lyrics were less likely to achieve commercial success, amidst a discussion about scientific accuracy versus artistic licence. Katie revealed that she 'should have known better' as she used to be a member of the Astronomy club at school.
A double A-side of the self-penned "I Cried For You" and a cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" (1988), which is the theme song to the film Just Like Heaven, was released in the UK on December 5 and peaked at UK #35. A third single, "Spider's Web" is scheduled for release on the 17th April 2006. Katie Melua is also planning to embark on a concert tour in support of Piece by Piece, the UK leg of which starts in Aberdeen, Scotland on January 20, 2006.
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