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A Whole Lotta Sweet Gabriella Cilmi

The New Now

WhenI first saw her I was on the treadmill at the gym, but I couldn't hearher sing. As I ran, I was watching TV, but listening to my iPod becausethe 28,000-plus songs on shuffle are usually better than anything I canhear on television, but then she caught my eye. I unplugged myheadphones from my iPod and tapped into the TV audio. Not only was shecute, she could sing. Her name is Gabriella Cilmi(pronounced "chill me") and it turns out she was featured as a VH1 YouOught To Know artist. I hate to borrow their discoveries, but the factis, sometimes they do know and I think they're right about this one.

She sounds a bit like Duffy or Adele, who sound a bit like Amy Winehouse. If you haven't noticed, that's often the way it works in this business called music. It happened way back when the Beatles hit, nearly two decades later when the Knack arrived, again when Nirvanaspawned the grunge era, and countless other times. When a unique artistmanages to cut through the clutter and becomes successful, look for abunch of similar sounding acts to be snapped up by rival labels andthrust upon the public with the hopes of duplicating the success of theact that started the trend.

Even if that's the case, it doesn'tmean the artists caught up in this feeding frenzy aren't worthy intheir own right. Many transcend the trend and become more successfulthan the original trendsetter. Grammy-winning Adele and Duffy havecertainly done well, and may have a longer career than AmyWinehouse--for reasons that don't involve artistic merit. I expectGabriella Cilmi to do well, too.

YetCilmi differs from Winehouse, Duffy and Adele in the fact she's notBritish, but hails from Australia. She was discovered at the age of 13by a Warner Music executive performing a cover of the Rolling Stones'"Jumping Jack Flash" at a neighborhood Italian festival in Melbourne.Barely into her teens, four different major labels courted her beforeshe signed with Island Records in the U.K. Her debut album, Lessons To Be Learned, will be issued on March 17 in U.S. on Universal Republic. Here's another track from the album.


While"Sweet About Me" and "Sanctuary" are definitely in the Duffy-Adele-AmyWinehouse mold, don't write Cilmi off as a mere copyist of those gals.She's also proven to be quite the interpreter of other people's songs.Cilmi has covered Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River," Ne-Yo's "Closer," and her interpretation of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di,Ob-La-Da" was included on Mojo magazines The White Album Recovered last year. In the clip below, Cilmi goes back to one of her first musical inspirations, the mighty Led Zeppelin.Check out her cover of "Whole Lotta Love" and let me know if you'refeeling the love for Ms. Cilmi or--to paraphrase her own song--is therenothing sweet about her.

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