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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
James Morrison banishes the blues
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Singer-songwriter James Morrison is being tipped as the next songsmith to make it big - and bring a dose of blues and soul to the pop scene.

James Morrison
James Morrison is part of the new breed of singer-songwriters
The fresh-faced British artist has already gained heavy airplay, and his debut album, Undiscovered, has been number one on both the Amazon pre-release chart and iTunes album chart.

The 21-year-old's gravelly voice lends him a sense of gritty experience, and he says he has already come through more than his share of life's troubles.

And that is not just down to a cigarette habit. "I do smoke, which doesn't help," he says.

"But I always had a husky voice when I was a kid."

Ironically, his distinctive singing voice may be the result of severe illness soon after birth in Rugby, Warwickshire.

I had a tough time but it's positive - I know so much more because of it
James Morrison
He contracted whooping cough and almost died because he was coughing so much.

"I went blue and stopped breathing and they had to resuscitate me four times," he says.

Given just a 30% chance of survival, he has confounded doctors who said he would be severely brain damaged if he did pull through.

After that, the singer's parents split up when he was four and he was unhappy at school, where he was teased for playing the guitar instead of football.

He did not gain confidence until moving to Cornwall as a teenager, where he met people who were more enthusiastic about his music.

James Morrison
He is about to release his debut album Undiscovered in the UK

His big break came after being sacked from a van cleaning job in Derby for crashing a couple of vehicles.

"I just thought it was a good way to learn to drive," says the musician.

"But I made a wrong judgement and wrote off a new Merc van and that was the end of that."

The day after being fired, Morrison met an old friend who invited him to record a couple of songs in his studio.

Within a week, the resulting CD had found him a manager, and the singer-songwriter was invited to play for major labels one week later.

Morrison says his troubled upbringing had a silver lining. "The fact that it's been bad is a positive, yeah definitely," he says.

"I had a tough time but it's positive. I know so much more because of it and I've been to that point where it's so bad, it can't get any worse.

"Everything after that is a bonus, so I'm having the time of my life," adds the singer.

Undiscovered by James Morrison is released in the UK on 31 July.


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