Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson (born
27 October 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)
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. She grew up in London and is a British
citizen. She was educated at the independent Francis Holland School in
Vanessa-Mae, born 27 October 1978, coincidentally shares her birthday with
famed violinist Niccolò Paganini, who was born 196 years earlier on 27
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
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. Her first pop-style album,
The Violin Player, was released in 1995. She appeared on the 1997 Janet
Jackson album The Velvet Rope playing a violin solo on the song "Velvet
She performed in the interval of the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest in
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. A new album was expected in 2009, but
the year ended without the expected release.
On December 7th and 8th in London and December 15th, 16th, 17th in New
York; Vanessa was the special guest violinist for Il Divo's Christmas Tour
Vanessa-Mae most often uses one of two types of violins, a Guadagnini
acoustic violin or a Zeta Jazz model electric violin. The Guadagnini was
made in 1761, and was purchased by her parents at an auction for £150,000.
It was stolen in January 1995, but was recovered by the police two months
later. She once fell and broke it, but it was repaired.
In addition, she uses one of two Zeta Jazz Model electric violins, one of
which is white and the other one of which features decals of the U.S.
flag. She has also been using a silver-grey Zeta Jazz Model electric
violin since 2001. She also owns three Ted Brewer Violins two of which she
uses on stage (a Crossbow and a Vivo2 Clear) and in publicity material. In
addition to these violins, she sometimes buys violins and resells them
later, giving the proceeds to charity.