Ketevan 'Katie' Melua's early nomadic years were spent in the former USSR where her medically trained father was a heart specialist. He then obtained a position as a surgeon and the family initially moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland when she was nine and then relocated to London four years later. Receiving encouragement from her parents Melua decided to pursue her interest in music, taking part in a TV talent competition before attending the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology where she met the successful songwriter Mike Batt who was visiting the school. Impressed by her performance of her self-composed song 'Faraway Voice' (written about the late Eva Cassidy) he signed the teenager to his own Dramatico record label. With Batt as producer and composer of six songs, they recorded her debut album Call Off The Search which also featured several covers and two tracks (including 'Faraway Voice') written by Melua herself. The lead single from the album was Batt's 'Closest Thing To Crazy' which having gained heavy radio play in the UK on presenter Terry Wogan's BBC Radio 2 breakfast show shot to No 10 in the UK and subsequently helped propel the album to the top of the charts at the beginning of 2004. Hugely successful in her adopted home, the album went multi-platinum and ultimately saw worldwide sales of almost four million. While the record's title track reached No 19 in the charts a third single, her interpretation of John Mayall's 60s blues classic 'Crawling Up A Hill' failed to break into the Top 40. The success of her debut found the highly articulate and photogenic Melua all over the media, her August 2005 British citizenship ceremony attracting considerable attention. At the same time she and Batt were already working on her follow-up which was preceded by another Batt composition 'Nine Million Bicycles', a song that became her most successful single so far by peaking at No 5 in the charts.
Piece By Piece was released in September 2005 and saw Melua taking a much larger slice of the writing credits with it featuring five of her songs including one co-written with Batt who was also responsible for four wholly original compositions in addition to the co-write. The album debuted at the top of the UK charts, and emulating its predecessor it went multi-platinum with worldwide sales in excess of three and a half million copies. Maintaining her busy schedule Melua's third album Pictures was released in 2007 and saw her contributing one wholly original song plus co-writing one with Batt ('It's All In My Head') one with former The Faders singer Molly McQueen ('Perfect Circle') and two with Australian songwriter and label-mate Andrea McEwan ('What I Miss About You' and 'Dirty Dice'). Although less successful than previous records, yielding just one Top 30 hit 'If I Were A Sailboat' the album still debuted at No 2 in the UK where it was certified platinum. Melua rounded off 2007 on a high note with a studio-created duet with her hero the late Eva Cassidy on the single 'What A Wonderful World', a charity record in aid of the Red Cross that became her first UK No 1.
An absence of three years preceded the release of 2010's The House, her first record with no significant involvement from Batt (who only co-wrote one track with Melua) and in his place came master producer William Orbit and several new co-writers most notably Guy Chambers (five songs), Rick Nowels (two songs) and Melua herself having a compositional role in all but one track. Following the album's release the singer suffered a nervous breakdown and was advised by her doctors to rest for several months. Despite reaching the Top 5 and receiving generally favourable reviews from critics who viewed it as an ambitious record that saw her coming of age and boasting a very contemporary production The House surprisingly failed to sell in great quantities. Fully recovered from her health problems the diminutive singer returned in 2012 with Secret Symphony a record that reunited her with Mike Batt. With the returning producer and Melua co-writing two new tunes and several of their own, the album was completed by the inclusion of an eclectic choice of covers; other writers included François Hardy, Fran Healy of Travis and Ron Sexsmith. Troubled by another drop in sales, the record only reached No 8 in the UK charts and once again failed to produce any hit singles, a fate that would also befall her next album too.
In September 2012 Melua married former World superbike champion James Toseland in London and the following year released Ketevan, which was something of a return to form, and entered the charts at No 6. Despite a decline in record sales Katie Melua remains of the UK's most successful singer/songwriters and one of the few female artists to place six consecutive albums in the Top 10 and while her detractors have labelled her as bland and anodyne her phenomenal popularity is undeniable and her fans legion.
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