The Daily Telegraph
By Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
VANESSA-MAE, the violinist in hot pants or see-through dresses nicknamed Teeny Paganini, finally delivered her answer yesterday to the age-old question of whether it is best for parents or professionals to guide the careers of prodigies.
She announced she was parting company professionally with her mother. She said: "I think it is about time I spread my wings. I am 21, she is 42 — it is time for me to do my own thing." Though her mother, Pamela Mae Nicholson, has been accused of being too fierce an influence on her career, she has done a good job, turning Vanessa-Mae not only into an international violinist but a sex symbol too.
The violinist said she would be managed exclusively by Mel Bush, the showbusiness agent behind David Essex. Hitherto, her career had been looked after jointly by her mother and Mr Bush. Vanessa-Mae denied reports that she had either fallen out with her mother or accused her of driving her work schedule too hard.
The cause of her strongly expressed need to escape her mother's apron strings may be more prosaic - a new boyfriend. With her teenage years dominated by airports, recording and photographic studios, concert platforms or publicity tours, Vanessa-Mae has missed out on many of the normal activities of her age and boyfriends have been few and far between.
She had a brief affair with Jacques Villeneuve, the motor racing driver, but it was disclosed yesterday that there was a new man in her life, 35-year-old Lionel Catelan, son of the mayor of Val d'Isère, the French ski resort. The son is said to have a playboy reputation. Vanessa-Mae and her mother denied that they had had a personal rift or that the violinist planned to leave the home they share in London.
Mrs Nicholson said that as her daughter was getting older she was making more decisions for herself. She said: "There have been no arguments between us and she is very happy being the only child at home. At some point in the future she may decide to move out, but she is very happy at the moment.
"If she was 18 when she started I would have probably been less involved. She is quite a mature 21-year-old and feels more comfortable to take on the reins herself." Vanessa-Mae said: "There has definitely been no falling out."
Vanessa-Mae, who started when she was three, has become one of the world's best-selling violinists. For her debut album, which sold four million copies, she was photographed when she was 16 in a see-through dress emerging from the sea. She has appeared at concerts in hot pants, featured on the cover of lads' magazines as often as for serious music publications and appeared as a model on the catwalk.