She's just 21 years old, but south Londoner Rox is already being touted as the UK's answer to Lauryn Hill. Helen Clarke speaks to the singer ahead of her London show. It's Friday afternoon and the rest of the world is settling into weekend mode but not Rox, who's rushing around, getting ready for a rehearsal in Shepherds Bush. "It's a rehearsal for the tour," she says. "This one is gonna be an acoustic tour, which I'm really excited about because I usually have a band with me. It brings a new dimension to the songs, especially when you really break it down. Hopefully people will get to know the real me...and I won't have to be prancing around for the whole show!" Showing off the real her is important to Rox , or Roxanne Tatei to her mum. As part of the longlist for the BBC's Sound of 2010, alongside Ellie Goulding, Marina and The Diamonds and Delphic, there are a lot of eyes and ears on her, and they're expecting big things. "To be honest I don't really feel any pressure. I think things like that are lovely to have because it makes people listen to you and gets you some attention. "To get that response from the media's great, but they're not the important people. My record's not even out yet – that's going to be the real test. I sort of hope it will die down a bit before the record's out – I don't want people to get sick of my face before they've heard my voice!" The half Iranian, half Jamaican former BRIT school pupil has always been surrounded by music. "Lauryn Hill and Sade have always been big influences – my dad exposed me to them. He was always playing The Fugees – in fact I was probably still breast feeding when I first heard them. "I also liked Alanis Morissette when I was about 14-16. She was a huge influence – I just loved her range and the power of her voice. Her lyrics don't have a normal structure – she'll have one chorus and the rest all verse, or sometimes she'll have no chorus at all. She was great for teenage angst! And the best thing about all of those singers is that they didn't sell out – they did exactly what they wanted and needed to do. That's something I admire and hope I can do." And she's well on her way – since her first, soul extravaganza of a single, No Going Back, was released, Rox's life has been a bit of a whirlwind. One of her personal highlights, she says, was appearing on Later with Jools Holland, in November. "That was what really kicked it all off. I'll never forget getting that phone call. I've always watched it and I always said that I wanted that to be my first TV appearance! I was bloody nervous though – all those musicians standing around watching you, and you've got people like Annie Lennox dancing to your songs!" And what was Jools like? "Lovely...he's got no neck though! He's just a body and a head!" She also went to the Brit Awards. "I'd been a few times when I was at school but this was the first time I'd been there properly. Lady Gaga was amazing! When she first came out I was like 'what's she about?', I thought she was just another girl singer, but she really proved herself that night. She's so talented. When it's just her an a She can do it all." And with that she skips off into a taxi to cram in some last minute run-throughs of her set, hoping to prove that she, too, can do it all.
Rox releases her debut album, Memoirs, in June. She plays at Dingwalls, Camden, on March 18. For tickets visit