Belfast Telegraph

Songbird Katie Melua lays bare trauma of her breakdown

By Lesley-Huston

Songbird Katie Melua has spoken for the first time about how she was forced to take time away from her career after suffering a crippling nervous breakdown.

The chart-topping star, one of the biggest selling female artists in the UK, revealed that she went through an emotional meltdown while promoting her fourth album in 2010.

The 27-year-old, who was back in Belfast yesterday — where she spent part of her childhood — to sing at the Grand Opera House, said she was in hospital for six months and on anti-depressants.

She found herself immobilised in a chair, “staring into space”.

The Georgia-born singer-songwriter had been riding high in her career when she “hit a wall and had no option but to stop”, forcing her to cancel a tour she had been about to embark on. “It was very frightening,” she told You magazine at the weekend.

She has managed to bounce back through a combination of anti-depressants, therapy, time with her family and realising her limitations. “Looking from the outside it appears I am having a happy-ever-after, but the reality can be different,” she said.

The star — who has since become engaged to motorbiking champion James Toseland after meeting him at one of her gigs last year — said she is delighted to have come off medication.

“I can’t say I’ve figured it all out. I can say that the medication helped and coming off it felt really good,” she said.

The singer moved from war-torn Georgia to Belfast when she was just eight and was educated here for five years before her family moved to England.

Melua was back in the city of her childhood yesterday to perform in a one-off concert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pushkin Trust.

The ‘The Spirit of Pushkin’ event saw the internationally-renowned musician take to the stage with children from 85 primary schools from all over Ireland.\[c.obrien\]She also performed a number of songs from her five albums including Call off the Search, Piece by Piece and Secret Symphony. She was joined on stage by the youngsters to perform her final song, a specially commissioned piece called The Story’s Magic.

“I was so excited to return to Belfast, my second home, and perform on stage with these wonderful young singers,” she said.

“This city inspired me to become the person I am today, and I know that the Pushkin singers will forever be inspired by their experience of taking part in this anniversary concert.

“Through Pushkin, children are able to explore their imaginations and stories, helping to unlock their creativity and inspiration. Creativity in children is so important, particularly for our future artists, and I am delighted to be able to support a cause that continues to strengthen the bonds between educations and the arts.”

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