A singing waitress hung up her apron today as she signed a £1.5m (€2.2m) deal with the Rolling Stones’ record label.
Victoria Hart, 18, became an overnight sensation when she was chosen to perform for George Clooney and Brad Pitt at the Cannes Film Festival in France last month.
A fierce bidding war broke out between rival record companies desperate to snap her up.
Now she has agreed a six-album joint deal with the Stones’ label Decca and Universal Classics And Jazz, home of Jamie Cullum and Ella Fitzgerald.
Record company bosses are hailing her as “the Lily Allen of jazz”.
To sign the mega-bucks deal, Hart returned to where it all began – the Naked Turtle restaurant in Richmond, south west London.
She also handed in her notice after 18 months of waiting tables for £6 an hour.
Mark Cavell, vice president of Decca Records, said: “Victoria has that special star quality that shines through. Her voice touches you.
“She’s doing music no-one else is doing, but she’s not just trying to hark back to the Forties and Fifties – she has put her own style on these very original songs which she has written herself.
“She is very much like the Lily Allen of jazz.”
Recalling the battle to sign her, he said: “I was driving into work the day after she performed in Cannes. I was stuck in a traffic jam and I heard her on two radio stations.
“There was something about her – not just her story but her singing. That day I sent an email to my A&R man saying ’Check this girl out’. Three weeks later we signed her.”
Later this month record executives from the US will travel to London to hear Hart sing.
Cavell said: “I think she could conquer the overseas market. Her story, her personality and her music should make her go far. We have already had a lot of interest from the US.
Hart ditched her waitressing uniform today for a designer outfit by Vivienne Westwood. (“It’s borrowed... I really don’t want to give it back,” she said.) And shoes by Roberto Cavalli.
As a goodbye gesture, she attached her apron to balloons and sent it soaring into the skies above London.
She said it would be a “good luck charm” to whoever finds it.
Of her multimillion-pound record deal, the teenager, from Warley, Essex, said: “I’m pinching myself but then I’ve been pinching myself for the past three weeks.
“It’s crazy – the numbers part is a bit I don’t really understand and I can’t get my head round so much money.
“This has been such an amazing time for me. I’ve been gigging since I was 15 and I have worked so hard for this but it’s still like a dream.”