LONDON, UK (Top40 Charts/ Quite Great PR)
If ther saw their music idol in a restaurant, most people would be happy to get a photograph or signature — providing they're brave enough to speak to them at all.
But when beauty therapist Fiona Culley
spotted American country singer Darius
Rucker having lunch with his manager in Soho she refused to risk being ignored by performing to him in the middle of the restaurant.
Rucker, lead singer of Grammy Award-winning band Hootie & the Blowfish, was so blown away by the 25-year-old Londoner's rendition of Strangers and Angels by Kara DioGardi that he took her contact details — and the following week flew her to the home of country music, Nashville in Tennessee, where they recorded a duet together. Since meeting Rucker this year, Culley has given up her beauty therapist job, has written and recorded an EP in Nashville and landed a publishing contract with New York film company Marro. There are also plans for her to accompany her new mentor on his tour next year.
Culley, who grew up in Staffordshire and has been singing country music since she was a child, said of her meeting with Rucker: "It's definitely fate because I've been singing country music forever and to have one of the biggest country artists in the world just sat there and to have someone go, 'Ok, I'm going to talk to you,' — he was more shocked than me, he was just minding his own business.
"But sometimes you've got to do these things, you never know what will happen."
She added: "He says I remind him of a young Reba McEntire
and that I have something really special."
Culley, who is performing at the Embassy
Club in Mayfair tonight, said she wants to be a UK ambassador for country music, which is huge in the US. She added: "Country artists sell out the O2 but we don't have anyone in the UK to represent that music, so it would be cool to be the first one.
"The Americans love the English — I played in a bar over there and when I started talking the whole place went quiet. They were very responsive to my English accent, everyone just thought it was great."
Culley has been compared to country music legend Dolly Parton, but said that was only down to her white blonde hair and curves, adding: "It could be way worse."