Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Choir Boy to Pop Star: The Rise of Mika

"He took singing lessons and taught himself to play piano; a severe dyslexic, Mika is unable to read music. His first proper gig was, aged 11, in the choir in Richard Strauss's Die Frau Ohne Schatten at London's Royal Opera House. He went on to study at the Royal College of Music. At night he worked on his pop songs or waited table to pay the bills."

The 27-year old's first album, Life in Cartoon Motion, sold more than 5.6 million copies. Check out more of his story and his videos after the jump.

Mika was born in Beirut, the third of five children born to a Lebanese mother and an American father. When he was a year old his family was forced to leave war-torn Lebanon and moved to Paris. The first piano piece he learned to play was "Les Champs-Élysées", by Joe Dassin. After listening to Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box", he wrote his first song, which he describes as an "awful" piano instrumental called "Angry."  

The family moved to London when he was nine years old. There, he attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, where he experienced severe bullying. He also had problems with dyslexia. In response to these experiences, Mika was home-schooled by his mother at the age of 12, for six to eight months. He then attended St Philip's School in Kensington where he was the head of the Schola Cantorum (the St Philip's Choir). Later he attended Westminster School and the Royal College of Music, which he left to record his first album at Casablanca Records. He has also slightly altered his given name, Mica, changing the "c" to a "k" because he was frustrated by how often people would mispronounce it.

Mika comes from a family of seven (Mika was one of five siblings). He has one younger brother and one younger sister along with two older sisters. His sister Yasmine, who works as an artist under the nom de plume Dawack, painted the cartoon art for his album Life in Cartoon Motion, and she is currently a fashion designer. His sister Paloma was severely injured in October 2010 after falling from a third-story window and being impaled on railings. Mika speaks French and Spanish fluently; in an interview on 28 September 2009 with The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 he commented that he had taken Mandarin Chinese for 9 years but did not speak it very well, he also mentioned that his three sisters did all speak it fluently.

As a child Mika was trained by Alla Ardakov (Ablaberdyeva), a Russian opera professional, and later attended the Royal College of Music in London. His debut radio appearance was on Dermot O'Leary's BBC Radio 2 show in September 2006. 

He also appeared on Later... with Jools Holland, and on The Friday Night Project on 19 January 2007. Mika is rumored to have a vocal range of five octaves, but claims that it is actually closer to three and a half octaves.

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