Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 09:13 UK

Talking Shop: Lemar

Lemar got his big break after appearing on Fame Academy

Lemar rose to fame after appearing on BBC One talent show Fame Academy in 2002.

Despite finishing in third place in the competition, he has become the show's most successful alumni with six top 10 singles and three top 20 albums.

After a two-year break, and a brief foray into boxing for Sport Relief, the 30-year-old Londoner has returned with his fourth album, The Reason.

It's been a couple of years since you released an album, why so long?

It's taken so long because I wanted to go away and just get as much inspiration as I could.

I had done three albums before - a lot of work and promotion and a lot of travelling, but often when you're travelling you don't get the chance to see the places you're going to and get that inspiration.

So on this album, I didn't want to just record a bunch of songs and put them out, I wanted to rediscover my passion for music.

What can we look forward to from the new album?

This album is very different to my last three which were like the build up to this one. I really dug deep lyrically and musically and I think I've got 10 really strong songs that really mean something.

I think there's something there for everyone but it is very different to what people are going to expect from me. But I think that's important because it's the fourth album and I really wanted to make a mark.

Tells me about your new single, If She Knew?

It was actually written in my second to last session that I had for the album. I had done 78 songs for this album and it was like the 77th song.

The easiest explanation for the song is about a guy saying if this woman knew how bad I wanted to be with her, then she wouldn't ask me if I loved her.

Lemar won two Mobos in 2005

So what happened to the other 76 songs?

I like all of them but I really wanted this album to be to the point. I'm hoping people will say, 'these 10 songs are great and I want to listen again', not 'these 10 songs are great and I wish there was something else'.

Maybe the other songs will be used as B-sides, or if there's anyone out there that needs a song, I've got a few!

You became a father earlier this year - has fatherhood influenced your music?

In the build up to my daughter's birth so many people said to me it's going to be amazing and this is going to change your life, and I thought it's probably going to be an anti-climax, but it really does change you.

She is the most beautiful addition to my life and has made me think differently, so subconsciously I think she has influenced the whole album.

Estelle recently criticised the British music industry, saying it doesn't know what to do with black artists [Estelle went to the US to get a record label]. What's your take?

I think what she says is valid. It's very important for artists to know who they are. Some people get a break too early and the onus is on the record company to find out.

I think the more artists that come through and are successful because they know who they are, the more trust record companies will put into new artists.

I'm so happy for Estelle's success. Even after [the UK record company] didn't know what to do with her, she said she was going to make it work somehow. So she went across the water and found someone who understood what she's about and proved that it can be done.

Gabrielle said last year she thought the Mobos should be scrapped. As a previous winner, do you think they are still relevant?

The Reason is Lemar's fourth album

I think all awards ceremonies are relevant - anything that highlights the hard work that artists put in to their craft is always a good thing.

It's called Music of Black Origin so it's not necessarily celebrating just British music. If the Brit Awards were dominated by US artists then I'd question it.

There should be a soul category and I think you can always celebrate your homegrown talent more. But the challenge is there for the people that run the Mobos and hopefully they'll rise to the challenge and better themselves.

You are the only surviving alumni from Fame Academy and one of few successful artists from TV talent shows. Is it time these shows came to an end?

No, talent shows have been around for a while and people like seeing the people that aren't so great and get rejected as that's fun TV.

As long as the end result is a talented person who can sing and has what it takes then I think the message being sent out to other talented people is a good one.

I hear you're a keen pool player - have you ever hustled anyone?

In college when I should've been in my biology lessons I was in a pool club with my mates and became an expert. So once or twice during lunch breaks a bit of hustling went on.

That's one ambition of mine - I've always said I want to have a swimming pool in my house and a pool table. So who knows, if i can sell a few more albums, maybe I can save up and buy a pool table.

If She Knew is released on 17 November and The Reason is released on 24 November. Lemar was talking to BBC entertainment reporter Genevieve Hassan.

Shephard wins celebrity boxing
16 Mar 08 |  Sport Relief
Lemar becomes father to baby girl
21 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Lemar 'over moon' at Mobo double
23 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
Lemar: From Fame Academy to fame
25 Aug 05 |  Entertainment

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