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Blind chart-topper Charlotte has the last laugh over cruel schoolchildren.

BLIND pop singer Charlotte Kelly told yesterday of the cruel taunts she suffered at school.

Fellow pupils asked if her ambition was to be Stevie Wonder's girlfriend.

But Charlotte, now 22, has had the last laugh... because her single, Skin, has reached No 1 in the American dance charts.

The record will be released in Britain tomorrow.

Charlotte, who uses just her first name as a singer, was born with no sight at all in her left eye and virtually none in her right.

She grew up in the music business, living above her parents' record shop - Moonshine, in Lower Ford Street, Hillfields, Coventry.

Charlotte always dreamed of being a singer and left school at 14 to follow her ambition.

She said: "I did not realise I was nearly blind until I was eight.

"I was playing with my dad and he told me to cover one eye and asked me how many fingers he was holding up.

"I couldn't tell him and I realised I had a problem. But until then, I just thought everybody saw the way I did.

"I later learned I was born nearly blind and nothing could be done about it.

"At school, I was a bit of a loner. When the other girls played netball at lunchtimes, I walked around the playground singing to myself.

"They used to call me Charlotte Wonder and say I was Stevie Wonder's girlfriend. I think they were just trying to be funny. I just laughed it off.

"I never minded being associated with Stevie Wonder - he was my inspiration."

Charlotte's parents always supported her singing ambitions and paid pounds 60 for her to record a demo tape.

She made friends with singers and writers from the music industry and moved to Sheffield to further her career.

Charlotte said: "I wore dark glasses all the time and when I was about to sign my first record deal at the age of 16, I kept quiet about being nearly blind because I thought it might put them off.

"But when I told them later, they said they were fine about it."

Charlotte's big break came when Jazzie B, lead singer of pop group Soul II Soul, heard her on a demo tape.

When she was 20, she went on a world tour as a backing singer with Soul II Soul, which had a No 1hit in 1989 with Back To Life.

Charlotte has a one-year-old daughter, Iman, who is looked after by her mum, Michelle, aged 43.

Her dad, Tony, who is 44, is now a cabbie. Charlotte has two sisters and a brother, aged between 14 and 21.

The family now lives in London.
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Author:Lissaman, Vicky
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 16, 1999
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