Jamelia: 'Don't call me a celebrity'

The British R&B star Jamelia took time out to have children and now returns with her best album yet.

Our meeting place - an unassuming West End hotel - sums up Jamelia Davis' character. The Birmingham-raised artist's regular London hideaway reminds us she is not a star. She'd rather be known for her music.

Her third album, Walk with Me, is her strongest, with Jamelia's voice better placed to take on a wider range of styles. It should be easy, then, to build upon the success of 2004's Thank You, which catapulted her to stardom.

However, since her second album, Jamelia has produced her second child, Tiani. Not that this should be a problem, since she took time out after her debut record to bring up her first daughter, Teja. A two-year gap between albums suggests Jamelia is hungry to return to the fray. "As much as I love being a mother, I have missed being a part of the industry." Ever since she signed to Parlophone at 15 on the strength of self-penned a cappellas, the label has been supportive of her decisions to take breaks. That includes the hiatus between her 1999 debut, Drama, and its impressive follow up.

It is symptomatic of her wariness of celeb culture - "I just like going out and feeding the ducks," she says - that the father of her second child is Darren Byfield. He is a footballer, but only for Millwall. She praises him as being ambitious, but it is clear that he is supportive of her career path too.

Times were very different during the lead up to Thank You, when Jamelia was unsure about her artistic direction. She had been promoted as an R&B artist, but she enjoyed other kinds of music. Jamelia reminds us that the album was repackaged with new tracks that reflected her open mind.

First came "See it in a Boy's Eyes", co-written with labelmate Chris Martin, then her version of Sam Brown's 1980s hit "Stop", the theme to the second Bridget Jones film. "I was finding myself as an artist in the public eye. It's only now I've got the confidence to be as creative as I want," she says.

It is strange, though, to think of Come with Me as anything other than an R&B album. Jamelia has a wide variety of influences, thanks, in part, to the awards ceremonies she has attended. She cites Busted, Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks, though glosses over the fact that many stars cited her as one to watch, chiefly Elton John and Bono.

The first single, "Somebody Like You", is an ode to Byfield, though its poppy style also shows an artist not afraid to spread her wings. Even more ear-catching is "No More", her strongest song to date, which makes free use of The Stranglers' "Golden Brown".

Jamelia is happy not to take complete credit for the album. "When I first tried to write, I was five months pregnant and every song was either rubbish or insincere. I thought I needed to write another Thank You, but I was so sickeningly happy, I couldn't write anything with any strong emotion. It was all songs about Darren. I even wrote one that went, "He Shoots, He Scores". You're not going to hear that any time soon."

The most personal track is "Go", about encouraging someone to follow their heart and take a risky decision. It was inspired by her mum fretting over whether or not to emigrate to Jamaica.

And what about Jamelia's transatlantic prospects? She bats away any idea that she is the one UK R&B solo artist that could make it in the US. So enjoy Jamelia's time in the spotlight before she she goes off to feed the ducks.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star