Vanessa-Mae (British, born 27 October 1978 in Singapore) is a violinist with album sales reaching several million, having made her the wealthiest entertainer under 30 in the United Kingdom in 2006. She recorded the Beethoven and the Tchaikovsky violin concertos at age 13, the youngest soloist ever to do so. At the age of 17, she turned towards pop-style performances, and recorded pop-style albums.
Childhood and Youth
Vanessa-Mae was born in Singapore to Vorapong Vanakorn, an English hotelier of Thai ancestry who lives in Singapore. She became notable in the United Kingdom in her childhood making regular appearances on television such as Blue Peter mostly involving classical music and conservative style. She made her international professional debut at age ten in 1988 at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany. In the same year she made her concerto debut on stage with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in London. At age thirteen, she became the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, recorded 1991 under Tritico label.
Since 1995, at the age of 17, she turned towards pop-style performances, and recorded pop-style albums under EMI and Sony label. Her first pop-style album, The Violin Player, was released in 1995. In 1996, Vanessa-Mae's birth father publicly criticized and disowned her, because to him, she looked like a soft-porn showgirl.
Vanessa-Mae's mother and stepfather defended her, saying that her image is none of his business. She then appeared on the 1997 Janet Jackson album The Velvet Rope playing a violin solo on the song "Velvet Rope". Her 1997 album China Girl: The Classical Album 2 included performances composed by her: Violin Fantasy on Puccini's 'Turandot' and Reunification Overture, marking the reunification of China and Hong Kong.
Her manager continued to be her mother until 1999, when Vanessa-Mae at age 21 fired her.
Adult Life of Vanessa-Mae
On 7 March 2002 Vanessa-Mae performed a variation of Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – "Summer: III. Presto" during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Paralympics.
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.
In October 2011, Vanessa-Mae attended celebrations in Chechnya on the birthday of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov along with several other celebrities. According to the Moscow Times, she played a bit of Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' utterly mechanically. She is said to have received $500,000 for her performance. When asked where the money comes from to pay for performances, Kadyrov replied that Allah would give it to them. Human rights groups, who had urged the celebrities to cancel their appearances because of human rights abuses carried out under Kadyrov, criticised her and other celebrities for attending the event.
As of 2007, Vanessa-Mae's long-term boyfriend was Lionel Catalan. Vanessa-Mae has expressed a lack of interest in marriage, because for her a ring is not necessary to say I love you.
She has extensive recordings alone from 1990 until 2007 with 3 albums under Tritico label (1990/91), 11 albums under EMI and 1 album under Sony label.
Vanessa-Mae started skiing at around 4, about the same time as she began playing the piano, before moving to the violin at five. Since she was 14, she wanted to be a ski-star. At the age of 24, she attempted to represent Thailand for the 2002 Winter Olympics, but was unable to do so at the time, as the Thai Olympic Committee had requested she give up her British citizenship, which she was not ready to do. In 2009 Vanessa-Mae took up residence in the Swiss alpine resort of Zermatt. Later, Thailand accepted her because her natural father was Thai and she registered as a Thai alpine skier. In 2014, Thailand had no Alpine skiers in the top 500, and Olympic rules allowed such countries to send one man and one woman to the Olympics slalom and giant slalom, based on special criteria. To comply with these, a giant slalom competition was organized by the Alpine Ski Club Triglav and took place in January 2014 at Krvavec in Slovenia. It would be the last chance for Vanessa-Mae to achieve the FIS-recognized score to qualify for the February 2014 Olympics. The event included a national junior championship, in which she was 14 years older than any of the competition. The event published her score and it appeared that she was qualified. A controversy followed during which she was firstly banned from skiing because the qualifying race for her benefit was alleged to be corrupt but later the Court of Arbitration for Sport nullified the ban, citing lack of evidence for her own wrongdoing or any manipulation. Hence she had competed under the name Vanessa Vanakorn for Thailand in alpine skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics. However, she was last among the finishers, ranking 67th.
Her webpage (vanessamaeofficial.com) is expired and currently, no concert schedule is published.