By Jeremy Miles
JOIN a band and see the world. It's an interesting way of travelling as brilliant young singer Katie Melua has discovered during a globe-trotting year spent playing songs from her hugely successful debut album.
To be fair, Katie had been around a bit before she became a professional musician. Born in Georgia in the former USSR some 20 years ago, her heart surgeon father moved the family to Belfast when she was nine and at 14 they moved countries again, settling this time in London.
But her nomadic youth was nothing to the travel schedule she has experienced over the past six or seven months. In that time the shows promoting her album, Call Off the Search, to the USA, Australia, the Far East and across Europe.
I caught up with Katie as she prepared for another series of UK appearances - including a concert at the Bournemouth International Centre tonight.
"It's a been a mad year, absolutely crazy," she told me. "Touring can be tough but it's all been so interesting and anyway I'm just happy that people have responded so well to the music."
Although Katie's a fine singer, she knows that her success owes as much to being in the right place at the right time - she was spotted by composer and musician Mike Batt who helped develop her career - as it does to talent.
"Luck has a lot to do with it," she tells me. "There have been events that have occurred that I really didn't have a lot of control over."
The release of the record, for instance, she says seems to have occurred at exactly the right time. "People have been touched by the music on an emotional level, it's great." Certainly she found a niche market ready and waiting. The album spent weeks at the top of the charts beating both Norah Jones and Dido.
She says she loved touring in the States but adds that any temptation to indulge in 24-hour partying was helpfully offset by the fact that under American law she is still too young to drink
Tonight Katie arrives in town with her touring band, a six-piece that features, in addition to Mike Batt on keyboards, some seriously impressive music business veterans including Henry Spinetti on drums and Jim Cregan on guitar.
"They are great musicians. I'm very lucky. I'm only a seventh of what people see when they come to one of my concerts," says Katie.
Having just released a special bonus edition of Call Off The Search, complete with a 70-minute DVD of Concert and backstage footage, she is now preparing a new CD for relase in the new year.
"I am having a great life and I just want to make more music and to develop as a musician and songwriter," she told me.
Katie Melua plays the Bournemouth International Centre on October 23. For tickets and further information call 0870 111 3000 or call the National Hotline on 0870 060 0245, or 0870 100 0000.