After Sam Smith’s Mobo success, is the help of a pushy parent the surest route to stardom?

Smith’s triumph is just the latest example of an intriguing modern trend

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

When 22-year-old soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards on Wednesday, coming away with four gongs, he made that most uncool of tributes, dedicating the award to his parents: “This is truly a dream come true. Mum and Dad, this is for you,” he said.

It was a touching sentiment not always offered at raucous music awards ceremonies. But Sam Smith’s mother, Kate Cassidy, may have found the praise especially well-earned.

It’s no secret that behind many a successful young star lies a keen parent prepared to do whatever it takes to get their child to the top. Fired from her £500,000 a year City job as a broker, Ms Cassidy was reportedly dismissed without notice in 2009 after allegedly using too much of her time and resources at Tullett Prebon to promote her then schoolboy son’s career. She took her former employers to court for £1.5m, claiming damages against her dismissal.

Smith was 10 when his father signed him up for lessons with jazz singer Joanna Eden and has openly spoken about his parents’ encouragement, telling The Fader magazine: “Whenever my mum had dinner parties and when she was drunk, she used to make me ... sing to everyone,” he said. “I did, for some absurd reason.” He added that it was “actually my dad that used to push me”.

Andy Murray

Judy Murray, mother of tennis champion Andy Murray recently acquired celebrity status of her own after years of being hailed as the force behind Murray’s success. Having sent her son, aged 14, away to a tennis academy in Spain, Mrs Murray has since hit back at claims she was a pushy parent, saying that the same would not be said if she were a man.

Lindsay Lohan

Best known for her breakthrough role in the film The Parent Trap, Lohan’s path is one of the best-known tales of Hollywood child-stardom turned sour.

Lohan began her acting and modelling career at the age of three, and appeared in more than 60 TV commercials, with the encouragement of her parents, Dina and Michael. After her film career took off tense relations with her father and chronic drug abuse led to a rapid fall from grace.

Despite recovering her career with a role in the West End play Speed-the-Plow, Lohan’s relationship with her parents remains anything but happy. She told her father this year that she wanted nothing to do with him. “My father is a lunatic,” she said in 2009.

James Blunt

The singer was publicly embarrassed by his mother in January 2011 when she contacted BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to stand up for her son against criticism.

In an email read out live, Jane Blount [James dropped the “o” in his name] wrote: “My son James Blunt, who is hugely appreciated worldwide, receives harsh criticism here and we have, rather sadly, been aware that it is because of his background.” She added: “We are relieved that on the whole James’ fan base take no notice of the critics.”