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Jamelia - No Longer A Victim

teja mobo england daughter

"Superstar" appeared on Thank You, Jamelia's second full-length release. The album peaked at No. 4 on British charts, but it was the title song that surpassed even the success of "Superstar." The torchy ballad, which reached No. 2 on the singles charts, chronicles the end of an abusive relationship, and Jamelia admitted publicly that her longtime romance with Teja's father had been the source for the song's inspiration. In "Thank You," she expresses gratitude for her bruises, reflecting that they guided her, in the end, to a place of inner strength. "You broke my world [and] made me strong," she sings in it. Cairns, writing in the Sunday Times, compared it to disco diva Gloria Gaynor's enduring 1979 female-empowerment hit "I Will Survive," and called the song "one of those (very) rare examples of a lyric shot through with torment being married to an undislodgeable melody—and ripping up the charts."

In interviews Jamelia carefully explained that she had parted ways with her former boyfriend, a music promoter also from Birmingham, when Teja was just a few weeks old. "Because, when it was just me, it was my choice to be there: I could have walked out at any time," she told Marianne Macdonald of the Evening Standard. "When it happened when my daughter was there, I was making that choice for her, and what kind of mother was I to make her stay in this household?"

For a young woman who had once feared that her career was over at the age of 20, Jamelia had a stunning year in 2004. She completed her first tour as a headliner, and co-wrote a song with Chris Martin of Coldplay, "See It in a Boy's Eyes," that won her another Mobo that fall; "Thank You" also won for best single of the year. She signed with a modeling agency run by British supermodel Naomi Campbell—to whom the almond-eyed Jamelia has sometimes been compared—and landed a lucrative endorsement deal with athletic-gear maker Reebok. Still hoping to crack the American market, she was spending more time in Los Angeles and working with American songwriter Diane Warren, the hitmaker who boosted the fortunes of Whitney Houston and Aerosmith, and was considering taking some film roles. Certainly Jamelia's career had just begun.

At a Glance...

Born Jamelia Niela Davis on January 2, 1981, in Birmingham, England; daughter of Paulette Davis; children: Teja (daughter).

Career: EMI/Parlophone, recording artist, 1996(?)–; model, 2004–.

Awards: Mobo Award (Music of Black Origin), best video, 2000, for "Money"; Mobo Award, 2004, for "See It in a Boy's Eyes"; Mobo Award, for best single, 2004, for "Thank You."

Addresses: Office—c/o EMI/Parlophone, 43 Brook Green, London W6 7EF England. Home—Wolverhampton, England.

Linked romantically with British soccer player Darren Byfield, Jamelia lives in a house in Wolverhampton, England. Her two half-brothers fared less well in life: one was stabbed to death and the other charged in a case involving the deaths of two Birmingham women in 2002. The singer remained thankful for all that life has given her, as she told Cairns in another interview for the Sunday Times: in late 2004, she participated in the new Band Aid charity project, a 20th anniversary reprise of Bob Geldof's original fundraising effort for famine victims in Ethiopia. For the new single, an all-star line-up of pop and rock stars was once more assembled, and Jamelia was among them when Geldof showed the group some film footage before they started to record it. "And there was a little three-yearold girl in this field of dying people, and she could hardly walk," Jamelia told Cairns. "I was thinking, 'This girl is the same age as my daughter, Teja.' Then they brought out the girl who was on that film, and she's now 23, which is the age I am. So many things hit me in the space of a few minutes. Before that day, I would have said I wasn't privileged when I was younger. I was incredibly privileged: I had a house, I had food and water every day, I was getting an education."

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