Jade's UK's hope for Eurovision glory
A FORMER child star and soap actress and now Britain s Eurovision Song Contest entry this weekend, many would think Plaistow s Jade Ewen had a privileged background and was always destined for the top. But for much of her life, Jade has been a carer to he
A FORMER child star and soap actress and now Britain's Eurovision Song Contest entry this weekend, many would think Plaistow's Jade Ewen had a privileged background and was always destined for the top.
But for much of her life, Jade has been a carer to her blind Sicilian-born dad and her partially blind and deaf mum, who is originally from Jamaica.
Jade, 21, explains: "My parents' disabilities have given me a lot of drive, because my mum always said she didn't want to see us struggling like her. Since I was young, I knew what I wanted to do, and their support and advice has given me the ambition to go out and get what I want."
With both parents unable to work and living on disability benefits, money was far from flowing in the Ewen household as she went through primary school.
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She was approached by the renowned Sylvia Young theatre school but, unable to pay the fees, Jade set her mind to winning one of the precious few scholarships on offer.
At the age of 12, she landed the role of Nala in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in the West End and in her teens, Jade appeared on TV in the The Bill and Casualty.
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But she has always been determined to launch a music career and four years ago, with her dad, his guide dog and her demo, headed to New York, where she hooked up with top producer Kwame, who has Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls, Usher and Will Smith credits to his name.
And with that vital experience in the bag, her music career has now literally exploded.
She was picked by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to represent the United Kingdom in this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Russia, singing It's My Time, composed by him.
At the start of 2009, she was signed to Polydor and it has been confirmed that Take That star Gary Barlow will write some of the tracks on her debut album, out later this year.
Jade explains: "I don't want to sound depressing and boring, but I think some of the second half of the album will look at my relationship with my family. I want to allow this record to be intimate and personal at times."
"I don't want to be like everyone else. I'm trying to have integrity and be honest in what I do, as that's what I respect and admire in the artists that I love."
Before that there's the small matter of Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest 2009. Catch all the action live on BBC1 from 8pm.
- MATT TROLLOPE