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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 08:05 GMT
Sound of 2007: Sadie Ama
By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

British R&B singer Sadie Ama, younger sister of 1990s star Shola Ama, has come fourth on the BBC News website's Sound of 2007 list.

The list was compiled using tips from more than 130 music critics and broadcasters. One artist from the top five will be revealed every day, climaxing with the winner on Friday.

Sadie Ama

At 19, Sadie Ama has an innocent excitement about her impending pop career, despite being no stranger to the music scene.

Ten years ago, when her sister was riding high in the UK top 10, Sadie would present her autograph book to her idols during Top of the Pops.

"I was so young, I didn't even understand about the whole music industry," she says.

"I didn't even realise how big my sister actually was until now and I look back at it. I think wow, she won Mobo Awards, Brit Awards. It's just amazing."

Indeed, it is some act to follow. Shola was named best British female at the 1998 Brits after hits including You Might Need Somebody and You're the One I Love.

At the same time, Sadie - already a successful child model - was popping up in music videos herself.

She played the mini Mel B in the Spice Girls' video for Mama. "Oh, don't," she squeals. "That is very embarrassing.

Shola Ama at 1998 Brit Awards
Shola Ama won best female at the Brit Awards nine years ago
"It was great at the time. It was really, really exciting because I was such a big fan of the Spice Girls.

"So when I got that I was so excited. But when I look back, I'm cringing."

More recently, she has been seen alongside Lemar in his 50:50 video and So Solid Crew in Broken Silence.

But by the time she made those appearances, her own music was also causing waves on the urban scene.

After singing down the phone to her friend's cousin - producer Terror Danjah - she lent vocals to his track So Sure.

The song also featured Kano, on his way to urban success, and soon became an underground smash.

She's really supportive of me so I'm really lucky to have her - my sister always gives me the best advice
Sadie on Shola
"The minute I recorded So Sure, we got such good feedback and I was only 15 so I was really shocked," Sadie says.

"My manager was dragging me to meetings and this and that. I was just like: 'Oh my God.' I was having a panic attack.

"I didn't really understand it. It just got to a point where it was too much for me and I was just like: 'I don't even know if I even want to do this.'"

So she put the music on hold and went to college to enjoy her youth and decide her direction.

I wouldn't describe my music, there isn't a word or anything I can say - just fresh
Sadie Ama
But music remained her first love and she has now picked up where she left off, with new single Fallin' gaining huge momentum on the internet and on radio.

Her debut album is in the pipeline - but it is still too early to pin down her sound, she says.

"At the moment I wouldn't describe my music because I'm still progressing, so I'm still trying to develop my sound.

"I'm trying out a whole heap of different things, trying to get that one sound. At the moment, there isn't actually a word or anything I can say. Just fresh."

But she is hoping to break out of the underground grime scene, she says.

Soul sister

"I started out in the underground scene and I love that type of music. But I love loads of different music - I love soul, I love hip-hop, I love ragga, I love everything.

"So I wouldn't class myself as just being the underground thing."

Meanwhile, her big sister is helping write songs and do vocal arrangements for the album, and is also on hand to help Sadie avoid any pitfalls.

"She's been a big input in my career because there's a lot of things that she teaches me," explains Ama Jr.

"She's really supportive of me so I'm really lucky to have her.

"My sister always gives me the best advice and tells me: 'Keep your head focussed, stay strong, believe in yourself and do what you have to do to get where you want to be.'"

  • More than 130 impartial UK-based music writers, editors and broadcasters took part in to the Sound of 2007 poll by naming their three favourite new acts.

    These tips were weighted to take account of each pundit's stature, genre and record in previous polls, as well as the order in which they ranked their tips, with the results compiled into a top 10.

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