Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson (born 27 October 1978), known professionally as Vanessa-Mae, is a Singaporean-born British violinist and alpine skier. She is of Thai and Chinese descent. Her musical style is self-described as "violin techno-acoustic fusion", as several of her albums prominently feature the techno style with the classical style. A former child prodigy, she became a successful crossover violinist with album sales reaching several million, having made her the wealthiest young entertainer in the United Kingdom in 2006.She competed for Thailand at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in alpine skiing.Early life and educationVanessa-Mae was born in Singapore to Vorapong Vanakorn, an English hotelier of Thai ancestry who lives in Singapore, and Pamela Soei Luang Tan, a Chinese lawyer and semi-professional concert pianist. After her parents separated, her mother married Graham Nicholson, a British attorney who adopted Vanessa-Mae, and the family moved to England when Vanessa-Mae was four years old. She grew up in London and holds British citizenship. She began playing piano at the age of three and violin at five.At age eight, Vanessa-Mae began attending the Francis Holland School in London, and at eleven, after her concert debut in 1988, she enrolled at the Royal College of Music in London.In 1996, Vanessa-Mae's birth father publicly criticised and disowned her, adding that "she looks like a soft-porn showgirl", after seeing pictures of his scantily clad daughter to promote her albums. Vanessa-Mae's mother and stepfather defended her, saying that her image is none of his business.Musical careerVanessa-Mae became famous in the United Kingdom in her childhood making regular appearances on television (e.g. Blue Peter) mostly involving classical music and conservative style. She made her international professional debut at age ten in 1988 at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany, and the same year made her concerto debut on stage with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. At age thirteen, she became the youngest soloist to record both the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, according to Guinness World Records.After entering her teens, Vanessa-Mae broke away from her traditional classical influences and became known for her more distinct appearance, appearing in music videos in more stylised outfits. Her first pop-style album, The Violin Player, was released in 1995. She appeared on the 1997 Janet Jackson album The Velvet Rope playing a violin solo on the song "Velvet Rope".Vanessa-Mae was managed by her mother, who owns a private recording label and music agency, until 1999, when Vanessa-Mae fired her as her manager.On March 7, 2002, Vanessa-Mae performed a variation of Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – "Summer: III. Presto" during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Paralympics.In April 2006, Vanessa-Mae was ranked as the wealthiest young entertainer under 30 in the UK in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, having an estimated fortune of about £32 million stemming from concerts and record sales of over an estimated 10 million copies worldwide.In 2006, Vanessa-Mae announced that she would be releasing a new album sometime between 2007 and 2008. The album was said to draw inspiration from classic ballets and opera themes. A new album was expected in 2009, but the year ended without the expected release.In October 2011, Vanessa-Mae attended celebrations in Chechnya on the birthday of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov along with several other celebrities, playing excerpts from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, reportedly receiving $500,000 for her performance. Human rights groups, who had urged the celebrities to cancel their appearances because of human rights abuses carried out under Kadyrov, criticised her and other celebrities for attending the event.CompositionVanessa-Mae has occasionally recorded her own compositions. Her 1997 album China Girl: The Classical Album 2 included her Violin Fantasy on Puccini's 'Turandot' and Reunification Overture, marking the reunification of China and Hong Kong.ViolinsVanessa-Mae most often uses one of two types of violins, a Guadagnini acoustic violin or a Zeta Jazz model electric violin. The Guadagnini was made in 1761, and was purchased by her parents at an auction for £250,000 when she was ten. It was stolen in January 1995, but was recovered by police two months later.In addition, she uses one of two Zeta Jazz Model electric violins, one of which is white while the other features decals of the US flag. She has also been using a silver-grey Zeta Jazz Model electric violin since 2001. In addition, she owns three Ted Brewer Violins, two of which she uses on stage (a Crossbow and a Vivo2 Clear) and in publicity material. In addition to these violins, she sometimes buys violins and resells them later, giving the proceeds to charity.Skiing careerA skier since the age of four, she has wanted since age 14 to compete in the Olympics. Vanakorn attempted to represent Thailand for the 2002 Winter Olympics, but was unable to do so at the time, as the Thai Olympic Committee had requested she give up her British citizenship, which she was not ready to do. In 2009 Vanessa-Mae took up residence in the Swiss alpine resort of Zermatt. She started to train competitively in 2010. She is registered as a Thai alpine skier.She represented Thailand in the 2014 Winter Olympics as an alpine skier with the name Vanessa Vanakorn. Vanakorn unofficially qualified, under a second set of provisions for Olympic hopefuls, and the Thai Olympic selectors then accepted her bid to represent the country because her father is Thai. She skied in competition in more than the minimum 5 slalom and/or giant slalom FIS recognized international race events, qualifying for slalom and giant slalom in the 2014 Games. She became the second ever Winter Olympian for Thailand, leading the largest ever Thai delegation at a Winter Olympics: two skiers.On 18 February 2014, Vanakorn finished 74th of 90 skiers, with a time of 1:44.86 on her first run at Giant Slalom, 26.98 seconds behind the leader. She started in the 87th position, representing her relative ranking in the world giant slalom rankings. In run 2, she had a time of 1:42.11, 24.21 seconds behind the leader of run 2. She started 74th in run 2, the last starter for run 2. At the end of the event, she had a total time of 3:26.97, 50.10 seconds behind the gold medal winner, Tina Maze of Slovenia. She was last among the finishers, ranking 67th.Personal lifeVanessa-Mae has been dating Lionel Catalan for several years. The two met when she visited the ski-slopes of Val d'Isere in France. Catalan is the son of the resort's mayor. Mae is known for her lack of interest in marriage and has said "you don't need a ring to say I love you".