Move Over, Britney and Christina － A New Diva With an Attitude Is HereSamantha Mumba, daughter of a Zambian father and an Irish mother, is already winning public recognition worldwide as a rising R&B singer at the tender age of 18.
The song "Gotta Tell You" on her debut album of the same name exploded onto the Billboard singles chart, leaving many to speculate that a new face may be joining the ranks of the so-called "next-generation" divas.
The "grandmamas" of divadom, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, have made way for the younger talents Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Samantha Mumba seems set to join them.
She was born in Dublin, Ireland, home to numerous pop artists including U2, Sinead O'Connor and Ronan Keating of the band Boyzone.
She started taking regular dancing lessons when she was 3 years old, then played a major role in "The Hot Mikado," a modern take on Gilbert and Sullivan's well-known opera, at the age of 15. Her performance made her the talk of the town.
After a chance Dublin nightclub encounter with Louis Walsh, manager of the top male vocal bands Westlife and Boyzone, she managed to secure herself a record deal and started intensive training and preparation for her debut on the pop stage.
But she is more than an eyecatcher － as well as being a talented singer and dancer, she co-writes her own songs.
This musical talent, along with her professed determination to "show a bit more attitude" than the blonde-haired, blue-eyed crooners Spears and Aguilera that she wants to rival, seems likely to assure her a longer shelf life than the majority of pop's teenage debutantes. She also says she is convinced that her Irish nationality will give her an edge on her predominately American fellow vocalists.
Her first album, featuring the songs "Body II Body," "Baby Come on Over" and "Never Meant to Be," along with title track "Gotta Tell You" － a mix of R&B sounds with pop rhythms － has won a thumbs-up from critics, who have admired her sophisticated sound and polished vocals.
She has also gained praise for a ballad she wrote, "Never Meant to Be."
Look out for a Samantha Mumba tour date in Korea in April. She gives a masterful performance of extremely refined R&B sounds, and established local pop dance bands such as S.E.S. － let alone young female singers like Park Jung-hyun (Lena Park) － may not enjoy the comparison.
by Choe Jae-hee