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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
The Virtual Popstar
By Brady Haran
BBC News

Charlie Fairbrother
Charlie has fans in America
Charlie Fairbrother's playing a gig at The Hummingbird Cafe, and her fans are loving every minute of it.

They dance, clap and shout encouragement as Charlie reels off all her greatest hits.

But this is no ordinary performance - Charlie is performing in the 'virtual reality' of Second Life.

She's been a member of the online community since January, and it was only a matter of weeks until she joined its thriving live music scene.

Like all Second Life residents, Charlie uses an online persona known as an avatar.

Charlie's is a gothic-styled woman named Fable Sinatra.

Fabel Sinatra
Charlie's avatar is called Fable Sinatra

Fable's Second Life fan group boasts 180 members scattered across the world.

She says: "A lot of my fan base is American, I don't know what it is, maybe the accent!?"

Charlie's music is streamed live from her lounge room.

She plays from a computer station under the staircase of her living room, with her guitar and microphone plugged into the PC.

As she plays, her avatar is animated to strum a guitar and sway to the music.

She says: "When I first started performing in Second Life it felt really strange, sitting in front a computer playing along.

"It's probably not a normal thing to be doing, but I find it quite natural now."

As a single mother in a small Leicestershire village, Charlie says she does not have the time or opportunity to experience the live music scene.

But she says Second Life is allowing her to do so, both as a performer and listener.

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