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Joanne Valda O'Meara (born 29 April 1979 in Romfordmarker, Essex) is an Englishmarker singer, songwriter, television personality and actress. Formerly the lead singer of pop group S Club, she launched a solo career after the group's split in 2003, which was cut short following an appearance on Celebrity Big Brothermarker where she was embroiled in a controversy concerning claims of racial bullying.

Early life

O'Meara was born in Romfordmarker in Essex to parents Dave and Barbara. She grew up in Collier Rowmarker, a suburban housing estate in the north of Romfordmarker in the London Borough of Haveringmarker. She was educated at Clockhouse Junior School and Bower Park School.

Career

2-4 Family (1998–99)

In 1998, O'Meara started off her music career in the hip hop/rap group, 2-4 Family. She remained with the band for only one single release, "Stay".

S Club (1999-2003)

In her teenage years, O'Meara would serve food at her local pub in Ilfordmarker. It was there that someone from 19 Entertainment spotted her on stage and recruited her to join a new pop group S Club 7. She was a prominent member of the British group, singing most of the group's lead vocals, as well as acting with the group in their own TV series, the group also had two reality television shows "S Club 7 Go Wild" and "S Club 7 Don't Stop Movin'", as well as S Club's own movie, "Seeing Double".

During the filming of the movie, O'Meara hurt her back, limiting S Club's dance routines and leaving her out of the group for a brief period. O'Meara's voice remained; however, her vocals were re-recorded by Rachel Stevens for use during live television performances. O'Meara eventually returned to continue performing with S Club and to promote the movie. She remained with the band until their ultimate split in 2003.

Solo career: Relentless (2005-06)

Many speculated as to when O'Meara would make her comeback, having been the most prominent vocalist in S Club 7, but it was Rachel Stevens who was the first member of the band to release solo material. O'Meara surprised many of her fans by taking a long hiatus from pop music, and it was speculated that she was healing her back injury. According to reports in a tabloid newspaper O'Meara, who was estimated to be worth £500,000 when she left S Club, became addicted to gambling when she was unable to perform in the band due to her back problems.In July 2005, she announced that she had signed a new solo recording deal with Sanctuary Records, the label behind acts such as Morrissey, KISS and Megadeth.

Her debut single, "What Hurts the Most", was released on 26 September 2005, peaking at number thirteen on the UK Singles Chart, followed a week later by her album, Relentless. This, however, quickly fell out of the chart and sold poorly, peaking at #49. It also charted and sold poorly throughout Europe, reaching #82 in the Republic of Irelandmarker. O'Meara abruptly left the record label while they were still planning to release a second single.

In February 2006 she took part in the BBC reality show Just the Two of Us. Her singing partner was Chris Fountain, an actor in Hollyoaks, a British Soap opera. The pair came third in the competition, failing to attract enough votes to make the final after their performance of "Never Had a Dream Come True".

Celebrity Big Brother

O'Meara was the fourth person to enter the Celebrity Big Brothermarker house on 3 January 2007. According to the Daily Mirror, O'Meara entered the show to pay off her £34,000 debt and relaunch her singing career, with a plan to launch her new single shortly after her exit from the house.

She received a positive reaction from the crowd and admitted live that she had no idea what she was doing on the show. When betting opened, she was favourite to win.

Reaction and aftermath

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said "What we are seeing is a noxious brew of old-fashioned class conflict, straightforward bullying, ignorance and quite vicious racial bigotry. It is outrageous, and it is unpleasant".

O'Meara became the fourth housemate to be evicted from the show, leaving the house on Friday 26 January in a surprise double eviction, along with fellow contestant Cleo Rocos.

In her eviction interview with Davina McCall, O'Meara did not apologise for her comments and behaviour towards Shilpa Shetty, claiming she had done nothing wrong, a stance which she would continue to take in subsequent interviews. O'Meara also claimed that imitating her accent wasn't necessarily racist as Shilpa herself had laughed at O'Meara's imitation of her accent.

Her former housemate, Jade, disagreed with O'Meara's statement that she had done nothing wrong: "She's done everything wrong. She's made big mistakes." Jo's sister Julie admitted: "Jo should be very disappointed with herself."

In a subsequent interview with GMTV which aired on Tuesday 30 January 2007 O'Meara apologised for her behaviour, but denied that she had been a bully or a racist while in the house, "I couldn't use those words. My cousins are actually of a different race and to use those sort of words, it would make me sick. I haven't got a racist bone in my body and I'm not a bully". She blamed poor editing by the show's producers and misquotation in interviews by national newspapers (especially the Mirror article) following the Celebrity Big Brother final, for contributing to her already-ruined image. She claimed she has not returned home due to unspecified death threats and concerns over her safety. She also claimed that her reason for entering the house was to help save her home, which had been threatened with repossession.

In January 2008, in an interview with the Daily Mail, O'Meara noted she was well on the way to recovery, she had rediscovered her passion for rescuing animals and horses and also revealed that she was six months pregnant. While she admitted that the prospect of returning to the stage is daunting, she was considering an offer to work with former Celebrity Big Brother 2007 housemate, Jermaine Jackson. . On May 12, 2008, O'Meara gave birth to a son she named Lenny weighing 7lb 15oz by caesarean section.

S Club reunion and new album (2009–present)

Since November 2008, O'Meara has been performing in various nightclubs, universities and Butlins holiday camps around the United Kingdom along with fellow S Club members Bradley McIntosh and Paul Cattermole.

On 12 November 2008, a bottle was thrown at Jo during their performance in Bradfordmarker; it left her with a severe cut to the head, requiring treatment at a nearby Hospital. A 20-year old man was arrested, and the attack was thought to have been motivated by her Celebrity Big Brother antics (the city being well known for its Asian community).

O'Meara has joined Innocent Records and she confirmed in various recent interviews that she has been recording her second studio album for some time now. It is thought that it is to be called These Little Moments. The album is thought to be released in late 2009 or sometime in 2010.

Discography



Filmography



References




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