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Oh boy! boy!; Pop singer Jamie Benson is definitely all woman - despite having a man's name. Ali Stokes finds out more about the Louise lookalike.

Byline: Ali Stokes

SHE may have a boy's name but Bridgend-born pop singer Jamie Benson is definitely all woman. You only have to look in the pages of recent lads mags like FHM and Maxim to realise that the Louise lookalike is a sure fire contender for the sexiest women polls of 2002.

``If people don't know me they always assume I'm a boy,'' said Jamie, who was born in South Wales but grew up in Bognor Regis.

``Car drivers are the worst, when they come to collect me, they're always surprised to see a girl not a bloke.''

When she takes to the stage tomorrow supporting former Boyzone star Ronan Keating at Cardiff International Arena, she'll be showing how much she's grown up since her days fronting girl guitar band Hepburn.

Jamie's new look may come as a bit of a surprise to those who remember her as the singer with the feisty girl band.

``I don't mind showing a bit of cleavage, as long as it's done tastefully,'' Jamie, 23, said. ``As long as I look womanly not tarty, I'm game for a laugh.'' At 19, Jamie first made her name in pop as the ``mother'' of Hepburn (at 19 she was the oldest). It all seemed to be going so well for the girls.

Their debut single I Quit went straight into the top 10 and was later used on the soundtrack on the US cult teen series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But their second and third singles didn't fair so well and when their contract with Sony came to an end in 2000, so did the band.

Since they split, Jamie hasn't kept in contact with bass player Sarah Davies, guitarist Lisa Lister and drummer Beverley Fullen, because she says she's been busy concentrating on her own work.

Within six months of the Hepburn split she'd signed her new solo deal with Concept Music, borrowed half of Lenny Kravitz's band and gone to New York to record her solo album My Confession, which was released earlier this week.

``My dream was always to be a solo artist, so I could be more in control. And anyway I like being the centre of attention, ``'cos I'm a show-off like that,'' she joked. ``Everybody says I look like Louise, and I can't complain about that. She's a pretty girl and has attracted a good-looking husband (footballer Jamie Redknapp).''

In fact Jamie hasn't done so badly for herself. For the last four years she's been dating dancer Danny Hosier, who performed on stage with Kylie at the Brits Awards and appeared in an her Audience With Kylie. They first met at 16 when Jamie left home in Bognor to study drama and music at the Laine Theatre Arts School.

Posh Spice Victoria Beckham was one of her seniors and former Steps star Lee Latchford-Evans was a classmate.

``Danny and I were good mates at college. Then he went off to star in West Side Story and we met back up a couple of years later and got together,'' explained Jamie, who's a fan of Robbie Williams and Canadian singer Nelly Furtado ``Danny's extremely fit and a good looker, so I've not done so badly.''

It was always inevitable that Jamie would follow her parents, cabaret duo Barry and Dinky, into showbiz, after all she was virtually born on stage.

``My mum and dad were playing in a club in Bridgend when my mother was nine months pregnant.

``They had just finished the show when my mother started having contractions, so they took her to the nearest hospital and I was born,'' explained Jamie, who has Bridgend General Hospital on her birth certificate. With her solo album and her debut single Stay, a cover of the Lisa Loeb hit, Jamie is hoping to attract an older audience than the teenyboppers who snapped up Hepburn's records.

``On the one hand coming out of Hepburn is a help because I'd been established in the band and people were more aware of me and what I'd done before,'' she said.

``But it's also been a pain because people try and label you the same as when you're in the band, I've grown up musically. Everyone changes.''

Earlier this month Jamie made her Welsh solo debut at Red Dragon's Jubilee Party at the Oval Basin, Cardiff Bay, and tomorrow she'll be opening up for Ronan Keating.

``I first met Ronan a few months ago when I supported him at a gig in Minehead. He's a really nice guy.

``I'm planning to go to America very soon, so I wanted the experience of supporting a top numberone artist. I sent off my tape to Ronan and he liked it. ``I'm really looking forward to it. I want to attract an older audience, but I would like my music to be across the board.''


ALL WOMAN; Jamie Benson.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 15, 2002
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