ABC Good Morning America
JIMI HENDRIX OF THE VIOLIN
LISA McREE, Host: And it's 30 minutes past the hour. And classical violinists aren't known for being flashy, but
Vanessa-Mae isn't your average musician. The 19-year-old has occasionally raised eyebrows with her
unconventional style, but her incredible talent has won audiences over all over the world. And she's with us this
VANESSA-MAE: Hello, good to see you again.
LISA McREE: Hello.
CHARLES GIBSON: Welcome, welcome back. You were with us, I think, when the first album came out, wasn't it?
VANESSA-MAE: Yes, the first pop album, "The Violin Pair (ph)." But I'm here again for a classical album this
time, for "China Girl." CHARLES GIBSON: You were, you were 16 then?
VANESSA-MAE: Sixteen was the first time that I came to America, yes.
CHARLES GIBSON: All grown up now.
VANESSA-MAE: Yes, 19 now.
CHARLES GIBSON: Terrific.
VANESSA-MAE: Three years later.
CHARLES GIBSON: I look forward to hearing the album and look forward to hearing you play again on this...
VANESSA-MAE: Yes, absolutely, it's great to be here, thank you.
CHARLES GIBSON: Good to have you back, you come back anytime.
LISA McREE, Host: If you think the violin is an old- fashioned instrument, you haven't heard Vanessa-Mae the
19- year-old British superstar who wants to be the Jimi Hendrix of the violin. At the age of 13, the former child
prodigy had recorded three classical albums, then came a pop album of what she called technoacoustic fusion.
Now she' s playing on Janet Jackson's latest recording, as well as releasing a new CD of her own. It's called
"China Girl: The Classical Album 2." And in a few moments, she'll perform for us. But first, let' s meet
I know you've been here before, but I didn't know you, so tell me...
VANESSA-MAE: No, Lisa, you joined up in September.
LISA McREE:... where you're from.
VANESSA-MAE: Right? Yes.
LISA McREE: Yes, right, right. (inaudible), so where are you from?
VANESSA-MAE: Well, by blood I'm half-Thai, half-Chinese, but I live in London since I was 3 years old. So that's
my base, really.
LISA McREE: And when did you start playing violin, and why?
VANESSA-MAE: When I was 5 years old. It was just at school like all my friends as a hobby. I think my parents
wanted to enroll me just to keep me busy after school hours. That was all, really.
LISA McREE: But when was it that you took a violin and started doing things your teachers weren't telling you to
do with your violin?
VANESSA-MAE: Well, I think that it's -- teachers started getting more excited, I think. They started telephoning
my parents and saying, "She's got a bit of potential, maybe she'd like to develop it further." So it all rolled on from
there. I think it was their encouragement that pushed me into the direction of making music my life, really.
But I think when I was 8, that's when I really decided that I wanted to make the violin my profession when I grew
LISA McREE: And when was it that you made that turn, though, from playing the violin like your masters would
tell you to play the violin, and doing this thing you do now?
VANESSA-MAE: Oh, pop as well. I think that the thing is that I've grown up as a child of the '90s, like all the
teenagers out there. So even though I was trained as a classical violinist, I loved listening to pop, rock, acid jazz,
rock and roll, all those different kinds of things. So when I first came on this show, I was 16 when the " Violin Pair
(ph)" album, my first pop album. And next year I have a new pop album coming out in America, but right here, I'm
in the classical mood in America, because I've got "China Girl," my new classical album out. So I like having a
LISA McREE: And what made you want to do "China Girl," this, with the classical inspiration?
VANESSA-MAE: Well, I think sort of like how Bertolucci was inspired by China for "The Last Emperor of China,"
and Puccini was inspired by China to do the opera "Turandot." I have a sort of fascination growing up as a
Western Chinese girl, if you know what I mean, in pursuing my Chinese roots. I think since my grandfather died
when I was 15, I felt that my one link, real link, to the Chinese past had gone missing, and I wanted to pursue that
further on this album.
So it's a deeply romantic album, almost filmic and epic in parts.
LISA McREE: And your shows are well attended and well reviewed.
VANESSA-MAE: Yesterday we just did a show in New York, Shanghai Tang, they were opening their new
boutique in Madison Avenue, and that was an outdoor venue. It was fantastic audience.
LISA McREE: And we have some video of it here...
VANESSA-MAE: Oh, you have footage!
LISA McREE:... and your costumes...
LISA McREE:... are also fabulous and fun to look at. Now, you have a good luck ritual before you get up on stage
and perform. Tell me what your good luck is.
VANESSA-MAE: What I do, and I did it just before the show, actually, because I'm performing live (inaudible), is
to pour freshly spilt water on stage before I go on.
LISA McREE: To pour freshly...
VANESSA-MAE: Between the dressing room and the stage, I get some water, Evian, Perrier, or tap water.
LISA McREE: Right.
VANESSA-MAE: And I pour it in front of me, and that brings me a lot of good luck.
LISA McREE: Wow! And that's not the only thing that's spilled on our floor, I mean, I -- I don't know if you can
find your good luck charm any more here.
VANESSA-MAE: Yes, some people actually make the mistake of mopping it up, because they think it's a mistake.
But it's meant to be there, the water.
LISA McREE: We're going to be back with you in just a moment. Vanessa- Mae will perform for us right after this.
(Commercial Break) LISA McREE: And now Vanessa-Mae performs her adaptation of a Scottish folk song, and it
VANESSA-MAE: "I'm Adoon (ph) for Lack of Johnny." LISA McREE: "I'm Adoon for Lack of Johnny." We'll be
VANESSA-MAE: (singing) (inaudible), I'm adoon for lack of Johnny.
(Vanessa-Mae plays the violin.) (Commercial Break) LISA McREE: I have to ask you, what is the blue fingernail?
VANESSA-MAE: That means you're part of the gang, because we're a whole group on tour for three or four
weeks. But we'll give you guys one later.
LISA McREE: OK, deal.
VANESSA-MAE: To make you belong.
CHARLES GIBSON, Host: That's the way you get in, is they check the blue fingernail, and you're in.
VANESSA-MAE: Yes, (inaudible).
LISA McREE: Tonight on World News Tonight With Peter Jennings, the promises of vitamins and supplements
put to the test. Vitamins: The ABCs of Life, a special series on World News Tonight.
CHARLES GIBSON: And tomorrow on our program, country superstar Garth brooks will be here joining us and
performing for us a couple of times. And we're going to go out with a little more of "I'm Dying for Lack... " LISA
McREE: No, "I'm Adoon... "
CHARLES GIBSON: Oh, "Doon," that -- I love it when...
LISA McREE: Adoon.
VANESSA-MAE: It's "I'm A Doun for Lack of Johnny."
CHARLES GIBSON: Oh, "Adoon for Lack of Johnny." I
love it when great musicians like this get doon. OK, see you tomorrow.
LISA McREE: See you tomorrow.
(Vanessa-Mae plays the violin.)
Content and Programming copyright (c) 1997 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
LISA McREE, JIMI HENDRIX OF THE VIOLIN., ABC Good Morning America, 11-24-1997.