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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 19:07 GMT
Dido: The rising angel
Dido
Dido's album was the biggest UK seller of 2001
Dido has lept from obscurity to fame and fortune in little over 18 months and has now won two Brit Awards. BBC News Online looks at her rise to fame.

It is no exaggeration to say the name Dido Armstrong was not on any of the UK record buyer's lips 18 months ago.

But since then the singer-songwriter has risen from obscurity to fame and fortune and is now one of the music industry's biggest stars.

At the end of 2001 she was placed fourth in a list of the UK's highest-earning women, earning 10m with sales of 1.9 million copies of her album No Angel in the UK alone.

Her rise to prominence should not be that unexpected, however.

Sibling's shadow

She is the sister of Faithless mastermind and dance music producer, Rollo, and contributed vocals to Flowerstand Man on the band's 1996 debut, Reverence.

Then in her sibling's shadow, she contributed backing vocals to several other tracks, while doing a day job in a London publishing office and studying law part-time.

Eminem
Eminem helped launch Dido's career
But it was clear, even on those tracks, that she had been marked out as a star.

Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong, whose name comes from a character in Virgil's Aenid, was born in 1972 in London and was musically gifted as a child.

'Questions'

Her upbringing, she says, was eccentric - living in a book-filled Islington house, with no television and no friends ever allowed back.

"There are a lot of questions I've got to ask my mum when I get round to it," she has said, adding: "I think she just went off people. She didn't like them in our life, judging her life."

A musician as well as a singer, she attended London's Guildhall School of Music and played recorder, piano and violin.

Her teenage years were spent listening to her brother's record collection and touring with a classical ensemble.

While working with her brother's band she managed to record demo versions of her own songs, clinching a deal with the UK with Cheeky Records and a deal with the US arm of Arista Records in 1999.

Huge star

In the same year her debut album was released and she may have gone the way of many other talented pop artists, if it were not for two slices of fortune.

First, her song Here With Me was used as the theme tune to the US teen science fiction drama Roswell High, and then Eminem, already a huge star, sampled her song Thank You for use on his track Stan.

Roswell High
Thank You was the theme to Roswell High
Overnight, her songs were receiving airplay and her album and star began to rise.

Not much happens in the pop world in the US without causing tremors in the UK and it was not long before the homegrown talent received recognition on this side of the Atlantic.

Blessed

Her musicianship is reflected in her pop songs such as Here With Me and Hunter, which have a pop perfection and sense of craftmanship.

Her voice, while not blessed with the mellifluousness of some pop performers, is both haunting and distinctive.

Just a few notes of one of her many singles on the radio is enough to identify her.

As a celebrity she shuns, or neatly avoids, the tabloid-fuelled world that many of her peers inhabit.

The pop diva role, so beloved of stars such as Kylie and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, is not one that sits comfortably with her.

Real task

Of her success and a life lived in hotel rooms she has said: "My rooms are getting bigger and bigger. But otherwise, it's just the same old life.

"We're still touring, so you don't really get a sense of reality. I've been moving for the past two-and-a-half years, and the longest I've had in one place is two weeks."

One-hit wonders come and go but Dido's real task is to prove that she is no one-album wonder.

This time there will be no Eminem, no brother and no hit TV series acting as a catalyst.

But the name Dido is sure to be on everyone's lips in 18 months time. whatever happens next.

See also:

19 Jun 01 | Film
Faithless: Press reviews
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