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Katie Melua

Melua in 2004.
Background information
Birth name Ketevan Melua
Also known as Katie Melua
Born 16 September 1984 (1984-09-16) (age 25)
Kutaisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Origin Kutaisi, Georgia
Genres Blues, jazz, folk-pop
Instruments Guitar
Years active 2003–present
Labels Dramatico
Associated acts Eva Cassidy
Molly McQueen
Website www.katiemelua.com

Ketevan "Katie" Melua (Georgian: ქეთევან "ქეთი" მელუა About this sound listen , English pronunciation: /mɛˈluː.ə/; born 16 September 1984) is a Georgian/British singer, songwriter and musician. She was born in Georgia, but moved to Northern Ireland at the age of eight and then relocated to England at the age of fourteen.[2] Melua is signed to the small Dramatico record label, under the management of songwriter Mike Batt,[3] and made her musical debut in 2003. In 2006, she was the United Kingdom's biggest-selling female artist[4] and Europe's highest selling European female artist.[5]

In November 2003, at the age of nineteen, Melua released her first album, Call off the Search, which reached the top of the United Kingdom album charts and sold 1.8 million copies in its first five months of release.[6] Her second album, Piece by Piece, was released in September 2005 and to date has gone platinum four times.[7] Melua released her third studio album Pictures in October 2007, which was the last of her albums to be made in collaboration with Mike Batt.[8]

According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2008, Melua has a fortune of £18 million, making her the seventh richest British musician under thirty.[9] It was reported in 2009 that she had lost almost half of her fortune as a result of the global economic downturn.[10]


Life and career

Early life

Ketevan Melua, known as Ketino to her family,[11] was born to Amiran and Tamara Melua[12] in Kutaisi, Georgia, which was then part of the Soviet Union.[13] She spent her first years with her grandparents in Tbilisi[14] before moving with her parents and brother to the town of Batumi, Ajaria where her father worked as a heart specialist.[13] During this time Melua sometimes had to carry buckets of water up five flights of stairs to her family's flat[15][16] and according to her, "Now, when I'm staying in luxurious hotels, I think back to those days".[14]

In 1993, in the aftermath of the Georgian Civil War, the family moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where her father took up position at the prestigious Royal Victoria Hospital. The family remained in Belfast, living close to Falls Road, until Melua was thirteen.[12] During her time in Northern Ireland, Melua attended St. Catherine's Primary School on the Falls Road and later moved to Dominican College, Fortwilliam. The Melua family then moved to Sutton, London, and some time later moved again to Redhill, Surrey. In 2008 Melua moved out of her parents' home in Maida Vale to an apartment in Notting Hill[17] where she transformed the spare bedroom into a recording studio. Melua speaks Georgian, Russian and English and is partly of Canadian[18] and Russian ancestry.[19][20]

During the South Ossetia War in 2008, Melua's brother and mother were staying with relatives in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Melua was due to travel to Georgia herself just two weeks later.[11]

First television appearance

Due to her upbringing in politically unstable Georgia and troubled Belfast,[21] Melua initially planned to become either a historian or a politician.[22] This changed in 2000, at the age of fifteen, when Melua took part in a talent competition on British television channel ITV called "Stars Up Their Noses" (a spoof of Stars in Their Eyes) as part of the children's programme Mad for It!.[23] Melua won the contest by singing Badfinger's "Without You". The prize was £350 worth of MFI vouchers, with which she bought a chair for her father.[24] Had she lost the contest, she would have been gunged.[25]

Education and religion

Although she is a baptised Orthodox Christian,[17] whilst living in Belfast, Melua attended the Roman Catholic schools St Catherine's Primary School and Dominican College, Fortwilliam, while her younger brother attended Protestant schools.[2] After completing her GCSEs at the all-girls' grammar school Nonsuch High School in Cheam, Sutton, Melua attended the BRIT School for the Performing Arts in the London Borough of Croydon, undertaking a BTEC with an A-level in music. When studying at the school, Melua began to write songs and met her future manager and producer, Mike Batt.[26]

Melua didn't attend University, though she has often stated her desire to do so, saying that English literature, history and physics would be her courses of choice should she get the chance to go to University.[27]

Personal life

Melua met Luke Pritchard, lead singer of The Kooks, when they were both studying at the BRIT School where they began dating. Melua and Pritchard rarely speak of the relationship, but what is known is that the couple dated for three years. However, as Melua became more successful, the relationship came into difficulties and they split up in March 2005.[15][28]

Melua is occasionally referred to as an 'adrenaline junkie' because she enjoys roller coasters and fun fairs and often paraglides and hang glides.[29] She has skydived four times and taken several flying lessons, and in 2004 she was lowered from a 200 metre building in New Zealand at 60 mph. When asked about Melua being an 'adrenaline junkie', Mike Batt said, "she enjoys extremes, but in life her emotions are always in check."[3] In November 2009, Melua came near to drowning after she breathed in and choked on a lungful of water when diving in a lake near Heathrow Airport.[30]


On 10 August 2005, Melua became a British citizen with her parents and brother. The citizenship ceremony took place in Weybridge, Surrey.[31] On gaining British nationality, Melua was eligible for a British passport.[32] Becoming a British citizen meant that Melua had held three citizenships before she was 21; first Soviet, then Georgian and finally British. After the ceremony, Melua stated her pride at her newest nationality. "As a family, we have been very fortunate to find a happy lifestyle in this country and we feel we belong. We still consider ourselves to be Georgian, because that is where our roots are, and I return to Georgia every year to see my uncles and grandparents, but I am proud to now be a British citizen."[31]

Mike Batt

It was when performing at a Brit School showcase that Melua caught the eye of Mike Batt, an English songwriter and producer who was originally looking for an acid-rock band, bass player[33] and a singer capable of singing "jazz and blues in an interesting way".[34] After hearing Melua sing "Faraway Voice" (a song she wrote about the death of her idol Eva Cassidy) Batt signed the 18 year-old Melua to his small Dramatico recording and management company and sent her into the studio.[35]

Recording career

Call off the Search

Call off the Search featured two songs written by Melua: "Belfast (Penguins and Cats)", a song about Melua's experience of her time in the troubled capital of Northern Ireland, and "Faraway Voice", a song about the death of Eva Cassidy. Melua also covered songs by Delores J. Silver ("Learnin' the Blues"), John Mayall ("Crawling up a Hill"), Randy Newman ("I Think it's Going to Rain Today") and James Shelton ("Lilac Wine"). Originally a major UK hit for singer Elkie Brooks. A final six songs on the album were by Mike Batt.[36]

It was initially difficult for Melua and Batt to get airplay for the album's lead single, "The Closest Thing to Crazy". This changed when BBC Radio 2 producer Paul Walters heard the single and played it on the popular Terry Wogan breakfast show.[37] Wogan played "The Closest Thing to Crazy" frequently in November and December 2003 in an attempt to make it that year's Christmas number-one. The single only reached number 10, but Wogan's support raised Melua's profile and when Call off the Search was released it became an immediate hit, reaching number one on the UK albums chart in January 2004. Call off the Search reached the top five in Ireland, top twenty in Norway, top thirty in a composite European chart and top fifty in Australia. In the UK, the album sold 1.2 million copies, making it four times platinum, and spent six weeks at the top of the charts. It sold three million copies worldwide. Subsequent singles did not reach the success of the first — the second single and album title track, "Call off the Search", reached number 19, and the third single, "Crawling up a Hill", got to number 41.[38]

Piece by Piece

Melua's second album, Piece by Piece, was released on 26 September 2005. Its lead single was "Nine Million Bicycles", which was released a week before the album on 19 September. The first UK airplay for the single was on the Terry Wogan show on 1 August. The album contains four more songs written by Melua herself, four more by Batt, one Batt/Melua collaboration and three more songs described as new versions of "great songs". The band line-up was the same as on the first album. The album debuted at the number-one spot on the UK Albums Chart on the week of 3 October 2005.[39]

On 30 September 2005, Melua came under criticism in The Guardian from writer and scientist Simon Singh for the lyrics of the track "Nine Million Bicycles". Melua's disputed lyrics were:

We are 12 billion light-years from the edge. That's a guess - no-one can ever say it's true, but I know that I will always be with you.[40]

They were interpreted by Singh as an assault on the accuracy of the work of cosmologists[41] which sparked a series of letters from other Guardian readers, agreeing or disagreeing.[42] On 15 October, Melua and Singh appeared on the BBC's Today programme, and Melua unveiled a re-recording of the song which included Singh's tongue-in-cheek amendments to the lyrics:

We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe, That's a good estimate with well-defined error bars, And with the available information, I predict that I will always be with you.[40]

Both sides amicably agreed that the new lyrics were less likely to achieve commercial success, amidst a discussion about scientific accuracy versus artistic licence. Melua said that she "should have known better" because she used to be a member of the astronomy club at school.[43] A double A-side of the Melua-penned "I Cried for You" and a cover of The Cure's "Just like Heaven" (1988), which is the theme song to the film Just like Heaven,[44] was released in the UK on 5 December and peaked at number 35. "I Cried for You" was inspired by a meeting with the writer of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.[45]

A third single, "Spider's Web" was released on 17 April 2006 and peaked at number 52 in the UK. Melua embarked on a concert tour in support of Piece by Piece, the UK leg of which started in Aberdeen, Scotland on 20 January 2006.[46] Towards the end of 2006, Melua released the single, "It's Only Pain", which was written by Mike Batt.[47] This was followed by the release of "Shy Boy", also written by Batt.[48]


Katie Melua at Cambridge Corn Exchange, as part of her UK concert tour, 2006.

Melua's third album, Pictures, was released in the UK on 1 October 2007[49] and has been announced to be the last of her albums in collaboration with Mike Batt as a creative team.[8] It also features Melua's friend Molly McQueen, the former frontwoman of The Faders, as co-writer of "Perfect Circle". Melua also collaborated with Andrea McEwan on the album, who wrote the lyrics for "What I Miss About You" and "Dirty Dice".[50] The album also featured a cover of "In My Secret Life" by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson. Melua said of the cover, "[It] completely got to me, about how we all have great ideals but in reality we end up conforming, following everyone else."[8]

Melua released four singles from the album: "If You Were a Sailboat", "Mary Pickford", "If the Lights Go Out", and "Ghost Town".[51] "Mary Pickford", written by Mike Batt, was about the silent film star of the same name.[12] "Ghost Town" was Melua's first reggae sounding song.[52]

The iTunes version of the album includes a cover of the Prince song "Under the Cherry Moon" as a bonus track.[53]

The House

Melua's fourth album, The House, is due for release on 24 May 2010. Songwriters include Lauren Christy, Guy Chambers and Rick Nowels, with William Orbit producing.[54][55]

Other work

Acting and modelling

Melua appeared in a segment of the 2007 movie Grindhouse, written by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The segment in which Melua appeared, entitled "Don't", was a faux trailer, directed by Edgar Wright and produced in the style of a 1970s' Hammer House of Horror film trailer.[56][57]

In 2009, Melua was named as the new face of the leading French cashmere designer, Eric Bompard.[58]

World record holder

On 2 October 2006, Melua entered the Guinness Book of Records for playing the deepest underwater concert 303 metres below sea level on the Norwegian Statoil's Troll A platform in the North Sea. Melua and her band underwent extensive medical tests and survival training in Norway before flying by helicopter to the rig. Melua later described achieving the record as "the most surreal gig I have ever done".[59] Melua's concert is commemorated in the DVD release Concert Under the Sea, released in June 2007.[60]

Charity work

Melua has been a supporter of the Oxfam charity shops for many years, using them frequently to buy her clothing.[15] Though, she has stated that this is related as much to her dislike of spending and glamour as it is to her support for the charity,[16] admitting that, when out in public, she looks "like a tramp" and that her hairdresser playfully calls her look "the Romanian window cleaner".[61]

In November 2004 Melua was asked to take part in Band Aid 20 in which she joined a chorus of British and Irish pop singers to create a rendition of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" to raise money for famine relief in Africa.[62] Then in March 2005, Melua sang "Too Much Love Will Kill You" with Brian May at the 46664 concert in George, South Africa for Nelson Mandela's HIV charity. Melua had been a fan of Queen since her childhood in Georgia when her uncles played the band's music, so performing with May was a realisation of a childhood dream.[16][63] Later in 2005, through her role as a goodwill ambassador to the charity Save the Children, Melua went to Sri Lanka where she observed the work the charity was doing for children in the area after the civil war and Indian Ocean tsunami.[64] In 2006 Melua donated all the proceeds from her single "Spider's Web" to the charity.[65]

On 7 July 2007 Melua performed at the German leg of Live Earth in Hamburg[66] and in December of that year, Melua released a cover of the Louis Armstrong song "What A Wonderful World" in which she sang with a recording of the late Eva Cassidy. All profits from the single, which entered the UK singles chart at #1 on 16 December 2007, went to the Red Cross.[67]

Musical tastes

In April 2006, for The Sun newspaper, Melua chose fourteen pieces of her favourite music that she enjoyed and had the biggest musical influence on her. The pieces she chose were Paul Simon's "Hearts and Bones", Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Joni Mitchell's "Marcie", Bob Dylan's "Masters of War", James Taylor's "How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)", Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place to Go", Portishead's "Glory Box", Björk's "The Pleasure Is All Mine", Camille's "Au Port", Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name", Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy", Finley Quaye's "Even After All", Suzanne Vega's "Caramel" and Babyshambles' "Fuck Forever".[68]

Melua has said on numerous occasions how Queen were a huge influence on her as a child/teenager, with one of her memories of music being her uncle playing records by Queen and Led Zeppelin.[69] She performed with Queen guitarist Brian May at the 46664 concert in 2005.[70]

Melua appeared on the BBC's The Culture Show in November 2006 advocating Paul McCartney as her choice in the search for Britain's greatest living icon.[71][72]




Year Film Song
2009 Faintheart "Toy Collection"
2007 Nancy Drew "Looking for Clues"
2006 Mía Sarah "Call off the Search", "Tiger in the Night"
Miss Potter "When You Taught Me How to Dance"
2005 Just like Heaven "Just like Heaven"

Acting roles

Year Film Role
2007 Grindhouse Murder Victim's Friend (segment "Don't")

Honours and awards

Year Ceremony Category Result
2007 ECHO Award Best International Female Artist Won[73]
Goldene Kamera Pop International Solo Won[74]
2006 BRIT Awards Best British Female Solo Artist Nominated[75]
Best Pop Act Nominated[75]
ECHO Award Best International Female Artist Nominated[76]
2005 Best International Newcomer Won[4]
  • Melua was the best-selling UK female artist of 2004 and 2005.[4]
  • In 2006 Melua had a tulip named after her.[77]
  • According to VH1, Call off the Search is the 87th best-selling British album in history.[78]


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  58. ^ Thrower, Kimberly (13 August 2009). "Katie Melua named as the face of Eric Bompard cashmere". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/fashionnews/6021659/Katie-Melua-named-as-the-face-of-Eric-Bompard-cashmere.html. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
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  60. ^ Schmidt, Veronica (24 May 2007). "Katie Melua's concert under the sea". The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article1829026.ece. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  61. ^ "I Look like a tramp". contact music. 2005-09-20. http://excite.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/melua%20i%20look%20like%20a%20tramp. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  62. ^ "Geldof hails new Band Aid single". BBC News. 15 November 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4008039.stm. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  63. ^ "Queen And Katie Melua Team Up". Female First. 10 March 2005. http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/entertainment/34042004.html. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  64. ^ Melua, Katie (15 June 2005). "Katie Melua in Sri Lanka". Save the Children. http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/55_1399.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  65. ^ "Melua To Donate Single Proceeds To Charity". contact music. 2006-04-11. http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/melua%20to%20donate%20single%20proceeds%20to%20charity_11_04_2006. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  66. ^ Coleman, Maureen (2007-07-05). "Katie sings to save the planet". The Belfast Telegraph. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/live-earth/article2737816.ece. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  67. ^ "Melua duet headed for number one". BBC News. 2007-12-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7140478.stm. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  68. ^ "What Katie did next". The Sun Newspaper. April 2006. 
  69. ^ Jackson, Joe (1 October 2006). "How Melua found her voice". Irish Independent. http://www.independent.ie/unsorted/features/how-melua-found-her-voice-135349.html. Retrieved 2010-02-10. .
  70. ^ "Stars unite for Mandela concert". BBC News. 20 March 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4364103.stm. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  71. ^ Melua, Katie (November 2006). "Living Icons". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/livingicons/bio07.shtml. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  72. ^ Melua, Katie (25 January 2007). "Katie Melua Talks About Paul McCartney". BBC. YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICIXDJ0G9ok. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  73. ^ Spahr, Wolfgang (2007-03-27). "Echo Awards handed out in Berlin". Monsters and Critics. http://music.monstersandcritics.com/news/article_1283055.php/Echo_Awards_handed_out_in_Berlin. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
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  77. ^ P, Steve (2006-05-04). "Nine Million Botanists". BBC Top of the Pops. http://www.bbc.co.uk/totp/news/news/2006/05/04/31813.shtml. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  78. ^ Bond, Chris (16 November 2006). "Another honours list for Britain's best-selling rock stars". Yorkshire Post. http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=105&ArticleID=1878698. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

"Dancing is an important function of music, but so is crying."

Ketevan "Katie" Melua (Georgian: ქეთევან "ქეთი" მელუა) (born 1984-09-16) is a Georgian-born, Belfast-raised, British singer-songwriter.



  • წითელი ღვინო, სტალინი, შევარდნაძე, ქეთი მელუა.
  • It's so funny because when you do smoke weed and write a song, you're like, 'Yeah, this is brilliant, this is excellent!' - and the next morning you go back and often find that really it's not very good at all... I've never done anything like acid or cocaine and I hope I don't. But I guess you have to try things once in a while... just once. I think you have to be very wary of falling into that trap of getting addicted.
  • When I was 14 or 15 I was into the whole Spice Girls and I was a huge fan, but two years ago I heard The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and I was like - fucking hell, I've been born in the wrong bloody decade!
  • I get guilty when I spend money on silly things like clothes and stuff... Having experienced a completely different extreme of wealth, and I don't mean me being poor or rich, I mean knowing that 40 quid that gets spent on a pair of shoes could go a long way for a family in Georgia for a week or even a month, having experienced that, you're a bit more [guilty].
  • As a family, we have been very fortunate to find a happy lifestyle in this country and we feel we belong. We still consider ourselves to be Georgian, because that is where our roots are, and I return to Georgia every year to see my uncles and grandparents, but I am proud to now be a British citizen.
  • I do know that there are some things that exist in this world that you just can't prove. That could be the case with God or whoever might be up there, but I don't follow any one religion.
  • I think I am easy to make fun of. I try not to pay too much attention. You can't let critics dictate what you do... The thing that fascinates me, is the emotion in music, the way it can make me cry or laugh or be angry. I'm not trying to be hip or cool, and I'm not scared to put everything I have into songs. Passion is the greatest thing that music can evoke. We live in a society where I think people often find it hard to express themselves, but sometimes a song can do that for you. It might not be groundbreaking, but there is something about the simplicity of presenting songs where it's all about the lyric and the melody. People don't need to get through a whole lot of production to get to the root of the song. It's just music doing what music does best... A lot of things in the mainstream are repetitive and soulless and have been churned out without any real conviction. It is really unfair to call Coldplay insufferable, when they obviously care about what they do. James [Blunt] too. Too much of the music industry is controlled by lawyers and businessmen, making music like it's a product on the factory line. That's what I call insufferable.
  • Of course [Kate Bush] is still relevant. I wasn't actually in the country when her music first came out, so I only discovered it three or four years ago. What's amazing is that something like "Wuthering Heights" still sounds so different. I actually saw her about nine months ago, we were just passing at an industry event and I went up to her and said I was a big fan and asked her about the new record. She was really excited about it but quite nervous because she felt that everyone was hyping it up a bit and she just wanted to bring out an album. You know, she's a musician.
  • I spend eight to nine months working abroad and cram in a holiday when I have the odd week off. This year, three of those months were spent in America playing gigs with my band, so we got to visit all kinds of places from Arizona to New York. After a few weeks, I really began to miss family and friends not to mention baked beans!
  • Buying books is probably my biggest vice when I travel. I bought a great one in America called An Incomplete Education, which covers everything from fashion to philosophy in quite a humorous way. It’s a bluffer’s guide, but pretty extensive. Because I never went to university, it’s my attempt to bone up on subjects I don’t know much about.
  • I don't think I could see myself with someone who's famous. I don't like the lifestyle and everything it stands for. Too superficial. That attention is too much. For me to go home and be surrounded by that sounds like a fucking nightmare. But a musician or someone who's into music is different.
  • The last verse [In My Secret Life] completely got to me, about how we all have great ideals but in reality we end up conforming, following everyone else. We want to be stronger so we lead that life inside, thinking of ourselves as these great brave souls. I literally thought when I was 15 that I was a musical genius and I could change the world, but in fact you're not and you can't and you don't, and that realisation is almost heartbreaking.
  • Don't come into the music industry. It's almost inevitable that you'll psychologically be quite screwed up. Fame isn't a natural, human, behavioural thing. You get alienated. You're not really surrounded by truth.
  • I've never had paparazzi follow me and I rarely get recognised. I dress like a tramp when I'm not working. My hairdresser calls me the Romanian window cleaner. That's just the way I am.


  • Earth is my home!
    • Variant: "I'm from Earth."
    • Said in many interviews, usually when asked where the Georgian-born, Belfast-raised, British singer feels she belongs.
    • German Video interview


  • "She is one of the most intelligent singers I've worked with for a very long time, - there are little reminders in her voice, of all sorts of other singers like Eartha Kitt and Edith Piaf, - of whom she has never heard. She exudes a modest confidence, she is completely sure of herself and has a maturity far in advance of her age."
  • I'm a songwriter but she [Melua] has her songs written for her... She must think it's her fucking lucky day... It's not like she's singing old songs like Jamie [Cullum], she's singing shit new songs that her manager writes for her.
  • The only trouble is that there's absolutely no passion, no soul and no excitement to be found here...Yet all good music should provoke some sort of emotion, and this [Nine Million Bicycles] provokes none whatsoever.


  • I've got a ticket,
    To the fast city,
    Where the bells don't really ring,
    Getting off the plane the cold air,
    Rushes like bullets through my brain,
    And I'm divided between penguins and cats,
    But it's not about what animal you've got,
    It's about being able to fly,
    It's about dying nine times.
  • Because the line between,
    Wrong and right,
    Is the width of a thread,
    From a spider's web.
    The piano keys are black and white,
    But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
  • We are 13.7 billion light-years from the edge of the observable universe; that's a good estimate with well-defined error bars and with the available information, I predict that I will always be with you.

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