Monday, 29 March 2010

Sugababe Amelle Berrabah talks of cancer heartache

Video here

By Neil Bowdler
Health Reporter, BBC News

Earlier this month, Sugababe Amelle Berrabah jumped out of a plane to raise money for cancer research.

She took part in a tandem skydive with the Red Devils, free-falling for 30 seconds before parachuting to the ground.

The cause is one to which the 25-year-old is deeply committed because long before the singer was discovered, long before she became a chart-topper with girl group Sugababes, cancer changed her life.

The timing of our interview is entirely coincidental - I have been given a few minutes with her in a dressing room just before she and the other girls are due to go on stage on the Alan Titchmarsh Show.

She enters with a big smile, and then as the camera starts rolling, she tells me it is eight years to the very day since her father Mohamed died from liver cancer.

Little warning

There was little warning. He had gone into hospital for jaundice, but soon they were told he had six months to live.

I'd never talk about it for the first year, I even resented anyone asking me about him... I didn't think they understood.

Amelle Berrabah
She pauses. "I didn't think I was going to start crying... sorry," she says, before composing herself and resuming.

"He was one of the healthiest men I've ever known in my life - always jogging, doing the marathon, really fit and healthy, didn't ever drink so, yes, it was really hard to deal with that and I couldn't really imagine life without him."

He died just a few weeks later, and although she had her chance to say goodbye, initially she felt bitter.

"It's just very hard to get over. It took me a good few years. I'd never talk about it for the first year, I even resented anyone asking me about him... I didn't think they understood."

Another strength

Looking back now, she believes the experience has strengthened her.

Liver cancer can arise in the liver (primary liver cancer) or it can spread to the liver from another site (secondary liver cancer)
In the UK, secondary liver cancer is much more common
In developing countries, most people with liver cancer die within months of diagnosis
In higher income countries, surgery and chemotherapy can prolong life in some patients

Source: World Health Organization
"I think when you go through something like that, you build another type of strength anyway, so it's not that nothing hurts you anymore, but you do get through everything a lot easier."

Her father's advice to her and her siblings - that nothing in life they want will come without hard work - has also been a driving force ever since his death.

"I almost want to do it for him as well... It did really push me that way."

So what words or advice does Amelle have for those who might be going through a similar experience right now?

"I'm not going to lie. It's very hard for someone to say to you 'your daughter or your brother or mum or dad only have a certain amount of time to live'.

"You just have to be strong for yourself, your family and for the person as well, and just stay with them, stay close to them."

High profile names can help raise awareness of a disease or condition, and bring it under the spotlight. This video series talks to those in the public eye about their personal reasons for speaking out.

Sugababes Sweet 7 US release date 6th April

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Sugababes - Wear My Kiss & About A Girl - Live at UK Asian Music Awards 2010

Thanks to Sweet7Media

Sugababes perform 'Wear My Kiss' and 'About A Girl' live at the 2010 UK Asian Music Awards. Video thanks to Suga Files.

Video from ITN about Sugababes rumours

Sugababes dropped by US label

Sweet on Suga for the Camden Crawl?

Sweet on Suga for the Camden Crawl?
Published: 29 March, 2010

WHO’D have thought the Sugababes would ever be the hot topic of debate amongst Camden Crawl fanatics?

It seems their headline spot at the Roundhouse on the festival’s opening night has divided opinion amongst the most hardened “Crawlers”.

The pop trio’s inclusion may need some explanation.

They are currently involved in a legal dispute over the ownership of the band’s name, but will play the prestigious venue on Saturday, May 1, along with DJ Calvin Harris and a “secret special guest”.

The decision to include a commercial pop group on the bill has confounded Crawl regulars and local musicians alike, and split opinion.

Sam Bonham, a Kentish Town musician, said: “Camden Crawl should be about giving exposure to new artists, not pop groups who have already sold millions of records.”

MTV are responsible for booking acts at the Roundhouse during the Crawl and will be filming all the artists at the venue for broadcast.

The Sugababes’ latest album Sweet 7 has struggled in the UK Official Chart, only reaching number 14 – the lowest entry for a Sugababes’ album – prompting critics to claim that they are past their best.

Paul Barrett, a 24-year-old Camden nurse, said: “I don’t think it’s a good move for them. They’ve lost a lot of respect and they’re not the girl group they once were.

“They may have been manufactured before but they used to have good well-written songs. But now they’re just a bog-standard girl group and they don’t represent the Crawl.”

But others have leapt to their defence.

Lewis Mortimer, who works at Out On The Floor Records, in Inverness Street, Camden Town, said: “All the music there is pop music, they (Sugababes) just have a different aesthetic. It might cause offence to some hardcore rock fans but it doesn’t bother me.”

Daniel Parutto, a 35-year-old pub manager, also supports their inclusion: “Camden has changed a lot so why shouldn’t they play? I’m sure there are a lot of people who will like it.”

A Camden Crawl spokesman said: “They (MTV) felt quite strongly about including a balance of acts that reflect their playlist at the event and thus really wanted to feature Sugababes.

“The Crawl itself is intended to be a festival for everyone which celebrates new music from all genres alongside some big surprises and heritage acts. It will be interesting to see how people react to the decision of having them on at the event.

“As our audience would be unlikely to buy tickets to see them play under normal circumstances, it may be a new and different experience for those who choose to participate.”

The Crawl is renowned for featuring the best in new indie and alternative music.

Last year’s event included Little Boots and The Big Pink alongside more established acts such as Kasabian and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Fans attending this year’s festival can look forward to performances from the likes of Lost Prophets and We Are Scientists.

The Crawl takes place across 40 venues on May 1 and 2 with the “special secret guest” due to be announced on April 19.