Sugababe singer Jade Ewen on her blindness torment and death threats
Mar 20 2010 Exclusive by John Dingwall
SUGABABES star Jade Ewen has spoken of her fears any children she has could be born blind.
The 22-year-old singer has also told of her hurt at vile abuse and death threats from fans who were against her joining the band.
Jade, one third of Britain's biggest selling female pop group, grew up as carer to her blind parents - Scots Italian dad Trevor and Jamaican mum Carol.
She has also lived with the knowledge she could go blind and that she could pass the condition on to her children.
Jade, who replaced Keisha Buchanan in the Sugababes, said while her father was born blind, her mother was blind in one eye but very capable.
That was until seven years ago when Carol got myasthenia gravis - a rare condition affecting the nerves that supply the muscles around the body.
Overnight Carol went from being able to care for her family to being unable to get out of bed or even open her eyes.
As the oldest child, Jade took on the role of caring for her siblings.
She said: "My dad was born completely blind. Then my mum came down with myasthenia - for me it became like having two blind parents.
"I remember trying to do my GSCEs and having to do exams early so that I could go and bring my little brother home from school while my mum was in hospital."
"There is a one in three chance that one of us might have sight problems.
"It's possible that I may be a carrier and my kids could be affected."
Jade joined Heidi Range and Amelle Berrabah in the Sugababes six months ago and the group are set to enjoy chart success tomorrow when Sweet 7, her first album as part of the trio, hits the charts.
But Jade's joy has been tempered by death threats and abuse from fans who were against her joining the group.
Jade, dating Ricky Norwood, who plays Fatboy in EastEnders, said: "It's fair enough for fans to have an opinion on the new line-up but, when they say they want to kill me, that's a bit much.
"I've had people say things like, 'It's a good thing your dad can't see your ugly mug'. People say racist things or that they want to hurt my family members.
"My mum struggles with anything negative. I tell her even the biggest artists like Beyonce get criticism."
Jade said she'd never have been a success if her parents hadn't helped her. She added: "My family have been so supportive. It's only as I have got older that it sinks in how much they gave up and how much time they invested.
"My mum and dad lived off benefits, so any money we had was tight. For them to spend it on dance lessons for me showed how much they supported me.
"It couldn't have been the easiest thing to tell their child she can pursue acting or singing when it is not a given that she is going to be successful. It was a big risk.
"I'm really happy they stood by me because there were times when I thought I should get a normal job."
Recalling the moment she found out she would join the Sugababes, Jade said: "I was told, 'Something has come up. You have got to get on a plane now. We've got an opportunity for you but it would mean going to LA now, shooting a video tomorrow and being in the Sugababes.
"I remember being really scared but I agreed to go. I wasn't sure and I remember doing the video and thinking, 'It's too late now, I guess I'm in the Sugababes'."