Book review, by Gina Waggott.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past ten months or so, you will have heard of Gareth Gates, the talented singing sensation from Bradford who has rapidly risen to a dizzying height of fame. Vowing not to let his stammer hold him back, Gareth became a national superstar after ITV's highly-successful Pop Idol series and now has two No.1 singles under his belt, lucrative advertising deals and a place in the Guinness Book of Records. All that and he's only just turned 18!
Why then, has he already released an autobiography? "Welcome to my story so far", writes Gareth. "As you know, I'm only eighteen, so this could never be called a proper autobiography. This is my life, from my perspective, from the moment that I was born, through my head choirboy days, to my life as a number one pop star".
The book delivers exactly that - and is littered with an array of pictures, ranging from cute family album snaps to the glamorous, professional studio shots - guaranteed to put a smile on the face of his many female fans. The nine chapters cover the stories behind both his hit singles, how he feels about fame, what he does in his (very little, I imagine) spare time, his female fans - and - yessss! - an entire chapter devoted to Gareth's battle with his stammer and his involvement with the McGuire Programme.
If you're looking for hot gossip or Gareth's secrets exposed, you're in for a slightly disappointing read. Everything keeps with Gareth's squeaky-clean image, but good for him. We learn of his constant dedication to music. As Gareth himself says "Some have called me an overnight success... once you read this book... you'll see how hard I worked to fulfil my dream". From singing in school plays at a young age, through to learning both piano and guitar and becoming head choirboy at Bradford Cathedral, music has indeed been Gareth's life.
"I lived through my music because I couldn't speak well", he says - and at almost every page we are reminded that Gareth's stammer has permeated many aspects of his life. His schooldays were no exception..."In my German GCSE oral exam, I actually had to sing my answers out".
Speaking candidly about his first ever Pop Idol audition, Gareth was "completely eaten up with nerves" at the prospect of introducing himself:
"I had to announce my name in front of strangers and, for someone with a stammer, that's the most difficult thing to do. I could sing and I looked all right, but I was sure they wanted a pop star - and pop stars don't have stammers".
Gareth attended two McGuire courses before his busy schedule took over, and said: "The programme is the best thing I've done... [it] was absolutely fantastic for me... although it doesn't advertise itself as 'the cure'".
Needless to say, Gareth has become a role model for young people who stammer all over the country. "I haven't ever let it hold me back from fulfilling my dream", he says. "One of the messages I wanted to get out to people on the Pop Idol show was that even though you have a disability, you shouldn't let it stop you from what you want to do".
Wise words from a fresh young voice, and one who I hope will carry on speaking and singing well into the future. An entertaining and interesting read from one of Britain's most deserving young stars. Thanks Gareth!
Reviewed by Gina Waggott in the Winter 2002 issue of 'Speaking Out'
Title: Gareth Gates - Right From The Start
Co-author: Sian Solanas
ISBN: 1 85227 914 1