Born Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson on 27 October 1978 in Singapore, Vanessa Mae started her career as a new age violinist in Britain when she was still in her early teens. I remember seeing her on TV some 20 years ago. Offering more eye candy than music, it was clear to everyone that she could never have made it in Singapore. Concerned parents and other moronic moralists would have complained about her skimpy costumes, her provocative moves and what’s more, she was seriously underage to boot.
To me, she was more an “entertainer” than a musician. I guess I was probably paying more attention to her sexy costumes than her music. No, I didn’t buy a single one of her albums. I guess I didn’t really like the sound of her “techno violin” but frankly, I had nothing against her. Not so for those in the media. As expected, local DJs gave her a hard time. Our local media also panned her performances. For someone so young, I thought she handled her critics pretty well.
In April 2006, Vanessa-Mae was ranked as the wealthiest young entertainer under 30 in the UK in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, having an estimated fortune of about £32 million stemming from concerts and record sales of over an estimated 10 million copies worldwide. Yes, the critics in Singapore who made some dire predictions for her may have to eat her violin. Anyway, she quietly retired and did not release anymore albums after 2006.
In 2009 Vanessa Mae took up residence in the Swiss alpine resort of Zermatt. She also took up competitive skiing and she will represent Thailand in the 2014 Winter Olympics as an alpine skier by the name of Vanessa Vanakorn. Vanakorn unofficially qualified, under a second set of provisions for Olympic hopefuls, and the Thai Olympic selectors have accepted her bid to represent the country as her father is Thai.
It would be interesting to see how someone with a totally Farang upbringing can represent Thailand. Even more amazing is how Thailand can recruit skiers without spending millions of dollars and going on scouting missions to China. Sadly, in spite of all the role models we have in our closely-watched teachers and leaders, we are still turning out brats and bullies.
I’m curious about whether she’s taking up Thai lessons now, but seriously, I’m more curious about her skiing outfit.
© Chan Joon Yee