"She out-Kylied Kylie right off the bat!" wrote one journalist of Natalie Imbruglia's arrival on the British music scene. While critics were quick to make comparisons between the two Aussie songbirds, Natalie has nothing but respect for her petite predecessor, however. Indeed, when her conquest of the British charts seemed a long-time in coming it was Kylie who helped persuade her countrywoman to persevere.
The doe-eyed beauty arrived in London in 1994 armed with only her dreams of pop stardom. Eking out a living playing in nightclubs, the then 19-year-old relied on the support of her friends to keep her going. "Kylie was very supportive and told me to stick at it," reveals Natalie. "She was always there for me."
Three years later the singer's perseverance paid off when RCA offered her some rather more tangible support in the form of a contract. And it wasn't long before the label reaped the rewards of its investment. Natalie's debut single, Torn sold over a million copies in the UK alone.
The fact that a sizeable percentage of Britain's male population had already fallen in love with her Neighbours character, Beth Willis, no doubt helped her profile. But the soap star's hard-won musical success went even further than that of her Neighbours predecessors. Her unique brand of indie pop not only garnered the plaudits of the music press, but also succeeded where Jason and Kylie had both failed, by making inroads in the US market. Torn was the most-played single on American radio for ten consecutive weeks.
Born in Sydney on February 4, 1975, Natalie has her horticulturalist dad - a Sicilian immigrant - to thank for her dusky Mediterranean features and, she says, her love of music. An avid opera fan, he would burst into song on car journeys. "He takes the credit for the fact that I sing, which I think is cute," she reveals. Her mother was an assistant head teacher, and the family - she has three sisters - grew up in Berkeley Vale, a small beach town north of Sydney.
Dreaming of stardom, the aspiring actress left for the city at just 16 and landed a role in Neighbours within months. At first it seemed she was living a fairytale, but Natalie found the pressure of celebrity uncomfortable and two years later told producers she wanted to be written out of the show. While Beth was exiled to Perth, Natalie headed for London to launch a singing career.
On the relationship front Natalie was once romantically linked to Lenny Kravitz and David Schwimmer, but it was fellow Aussie musician Daniel Johns, of the rock band Silverchair, who finally won her heart. The pair married on New Year's Eve 2003 in a beachside ceremony in their homeland. They proceeded to divide their time between homes in Berkshire in the UK and Newcastle, Australia.
Building on her musical success Natalie has also started to branch out into movies. After making her big screen debut in comedy Johhny English, she went on to star in Australian drama Elise. Songwriting will remain her priority, however, she assures fans. "I'm not going to be turning my back on music," she says.
At the beginning of 2008 it was announced that Natalie and her husband were to seperate after four years of marriage. The couple issued a statement to their fans saying: "While we are very sad that our marriage has ended, we want to make it clear that our parting is amicable and we remain friends." They cited career demands as the reason for their separation.