Samantha Mumba...

OFF THE RECORD OFF THE RECORD; I'd rather be Whitney than Britney

Scottish Daily Record

TEENAGE sensation Samantha Mumba took a pop at "blonde and smiley" Britney
Spears yesterday as she celebrated hitting number one in America.

Samantha, 17, outdid Robbie Williams, Oasis and stablemates Westlife by shooting to the top of the Billboard 100 with Stateside debut single Gotta Tell You. But now she fears being lumped in with Britney and Christina Aguilera as just another young and pretty female singer.

As she gave the Record an exclusive glimpse into her family photo album, Samantha
insisted she would rather be classed with diva Whitney Houston than with manufactured
teen acts.  She said: "Everyone is trying to compare me to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera but there are big differences between us. There are a lot of female artists my age around but they're all American and blonde and blue-eyed and smiley.   I'm totally the opposite of that. I won't tell fans I'm an angel or that I don't drink. "I want to show I have attitude and an opinion. I'm black and I'm from Ireland and that means I'm something totally different to what's gone before.

"I'd rather emulate Whitney because she is a particular idol of mine - an R&B diva. I'd love to get to know her. It's any female's ambition to have a career as successful and as
long as hers."

As our exclusive childhood pictures show, Dublin-born Samantha has always had star
quality. She has been guided to the big time by Louis Walsh, the Svengali behind Boyzone and Westlife.  He said: "This girl will be massive worldwide. She's the full package. I have enjoyed Boyzone and Westlife but Samantha is different because she is self-sufficient. She writes her own songs and I can see her on the Grammys before
too long. There's no reason why she can't have the same level of fame as people like Madonna."

Samantha told how she conned her way into a Dublin nightclub when she was only
15 because she was desperate to meet Walsh. She laughed: "I'd been told Louis was going to be at the club so I blagged my way in by saying I was an American R&B artist. The bouncers thought I was too young but I put on an accent and fooled them. Louis saw me and recognised me from some press coverage I'd been getting in Dublin. I thought he'd be this big music business guy but he looked completely different to what I'd expected. He's small and very funny. We met up, swapped numbers and he rang the next day. The benefits of having Louis as a manager are immeasurable. He got me my record deal, which is brilliant.

He still loves the boy bands but sees me as a new challenge. He knows I'm aiming
for the top." Samantha dismisses rumours that her relationship with Walsh is more than
professional.  She said: "I heard the other day that I was supposed to be having an affair with him but of course I'm not. We're just good friends and I burst out laughing when I heard that one. But at least people are talking about me."

Samantha's dad Peter is a Zambian who emigrated to Ireland 30 years ago and fell for her
mum Barbara soon after. A child prodigy, Samantha started dance classes aged three and first appeared on Irish TV when she was four. She went to the same stage school as Westlife pin-up Brian McFadden. "Stage school kids get labelled as precocious little brats in Britain but it's totally different here," she said.

Her career progressed into her teens and Walsh noticed her potential as she played
lead roles in local shows. "I got a lot of press and that got Louis's attention," she said. Walsh said: "She is the first black girl out of Ireland which is a selling point. The last black person to be successful from here was Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy. People think black people with an Irish accent are funny and the Americans love her. We are delighted."

As well as her music, Samantha has a modelling contract with the respected Ford
agency and a sponsorship deal with Levi's. And she isn't the only talent in the family. She plans to take 10- year-old brother Omero on the road with her as a dancer some day.
She said: "He's doing the same dancing that I did and he's going to be one of my
dancers. He's already following in my footsteps."




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