From SATs to sharing stage with Westlife

She’s a schoolgirl during the week but she’ll be on stage supporting Westlife this weekend when they play at Blickling Hall in Norfolk. ROBYN GREENACRE talks to singing sensation Roxanne.

Most 14-year-old girls stress over spots, shopping and occasionally school. One thing you certainly would not expect them to worry about is how they will cope being the supporting act to an internationally-renowned, chart-topping band.

However this teenager is different. Hailing from Brentwood in Essex, she goes by her first name only, Roxanne, and is preparing to open the show for Westlife at Blickling this weekend. The Irish band asked her on tour after their manager, Louis Walsh, recommended her and she has since been snapped up to support X Factor winner Shayne Ward next year.

So has the dream coming true of all young pop-loving girls across the country affected her?

When we speak she immediately talks school and SATs exams, which she has done rather well in. Sounding nervous, she is quick to point out that she's really not after fame and lives "a normal teenage life". If such a thing exists, it's unlikely it will last much longer.


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Roxanne was discovered by Ivor Novello-award-winning song-writer and producer Jon Hammond Hagan while reluctantly singing karaoke in a bar on holiday. "I really didn't want to but I was egged on to do it, it wasn't like I marched up on stage or anything."

Hammond Hagan was in the audience and immediately approached her, suggesting they work together. "When we were back in England and he called me, I was shocked. I thought it was one of those things that people say but don't really mean."

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The song she sang, Eva Cassidy's Somewhere Over The Rainbow, reflects her musical inspirations - which are rooted in middle-of-the-road artists appealing more to middle-aged than teenage fans.

"I love the Carpenters, Shirley Bassey - I grew up listening to that kind of stuff. My all-time ambition is to work with Barbra Streisand. I think she's just amazing. I really, really want to work with her."

The modern element to her musical taste is present with Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson and Sandi Thom - all female solo artists who have a heavy influence over the sound of their music. On her as-yet-untitled and unreleased debut album, described as 'melodic rock', she wrote several songs.

Oh, and there is the small matter of Lenny Kravitz and his collaborator, David Baron, writing a song especially for her.

They heard her voice and were inspired, as was Don Black, Oscar winner and composer of many a movie theme.

Yet, in spite of all this, Roxanne has not missed one day of school - making the album and rehearsing for her upcoming tours after school and at weekends.

Even the Westlife tour dates, which include Blickling Hall on Saturday, fall on weekends so that singing with superstars won't affect her education.

In fact, unless her schoolmates turn up to the show itself they won't know what Roxanne is up to.

"I haven't told my school. I don't want people to think I'm boasting or I've got a big head. A couple of my friends know and they're going to come with me and try and get Westlife's autographs! A few people have found out but I'm like 'please don't tell anyone'!" Many 14-year-olds would be terrified when faced with performing in front of thousands of people but not this one.

"Of course I get nervous about it, it's only human to do so but I know how to deal with it and control it so I'm feeling quite calm at the moment. Although saying that, right before I go on I'll get very nervous, once I'm out there though I'm fine."

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