LOTS of music-makers shoot the breeze about being the "next big thing" - but few young musicians can claim to be on a retainer from the man who discovered David Bowie and Queen.

17-year-old Blackburn acoustic singer/ songwriter Charlotte O' Connor can.

The talented teenager has been given a shot at super stardom after winning a talent competition and being picked up by a prestigious management company.

Charlotte has come a long way since her singing debut - a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the family Christmas dinner - and it looks likely she'll go a lot further, with her self-penned songs turning heads in the music industry.

We spoke to superstar-in-the-making.

Charlotte O'Connor is somewhat of a reluctant pop star.

She's young, beautiful, and has a haunting voice not dissimilar to that of Norah Jones or Dido. But perhaps the most endearing quality about the teenage singer/songwriter is her unassuming nature.

"I wouldn't want to be famous," she says.

"I know it sounds cheesy but I'd rather be known for my music. I just want to get people to relate to my music and to like it. I don't really like thinking of the fame side of things. I was walking in Blackburn town centre recently and I heard a guy saying 'That's Charlotte O'Connor.' I didn't like it. It felt strange."

But unfortunately for Charlotte, it looks like she'll have to get used to people staring and pointing at her because her music career looks set to rocket.

After recently winning a competition at Sir Paul McCartney's Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) in Liverpool, Charlotte was spotted by Sam Bush - son of legendary music promoter Mel Bush, who is credited with discovering David Bowie and Queen, and has promoted concerts with everyone from Led Zeppelin to Elton John.

"Sam Bush phoned us one Sunday at about 4pm last August and asked 'Can we meet up?'" says Charlotte's dad John, who is sitting in on the interview.

"We said 'Yeah sure, some time next week maybe?' He said 'What about in say four hours?' and he drove all the way up to see her there and then. The next day Charlotte travelled to London to meet Mel Bush and he signed her up for a five-year management and publishing contract."

Charlotte gave up her A-level studies to work as a professional musician in early December, and she is enjoying being primed for a career as an international artist. Her next goal is signing a record contract. "I'm Charlotte's biggest critic," continues John. "But Mel Bush took me to one side and said, 'Look, there's only been three people in my whole career I was sure were going to make it - that's David Bowie, Vanessa-Mae and the third is Charlotte. She's that good'."

Luckily Charlotte's hard work is paying off and she has meetings with two major record labels at the end of the month.

"The management's long-term objective is to do with me what they did with Vanessa-Mae and make me into an international artist not just limited to the UK. When I'm told these things it's hard to take it all in. I don't feel like a professional musician," says Charlotte modestly.

Charlotte's managers have been carefully controlling her progress, with all of her gigs to date being in London or Manchester where the talent scouts are - until now, that is.

For on Saturday, February 2, Charlotte will perform her first-ever solo home town gig at the Hordens, Livesey Branch Road, Blackburn. She can hardly wait.

"I'm really looking forward to playing a gig at home," says Charlotte.

"All of my gigs up to now have been in London, which is good for me in some ways because it's harder to do, having to make a first impression every time, but it'll be so nice to see my family and friends in the audience, and it'll be nice for them to see me perform."

As far as songwriting goes, Charlotte is inspired by anything and everything.

"When I was younger I was a bit too young to be writing love songs. I still am really, so I based my songs on my sister's relationships," says Charlotte. "There's one song called Crazy About You based on her. I think she was a bit shocked when she found out!

"I write music on my guitar. I start with the music and put the lyrics on top of it."

Charlotte's long-term goal, she says, is to enjoy a successful music career, but always to remember her roots.

"I really look up to Beyonce because when she goes on stage she performs as a character and when she comes off she becomes her normal self again. I think that's a good rule to live by. But I don't think I could get big-headed anyway - my family wouldn't let me!"

Charlotte O'Connor is performing at the Hordens, Livesey Branch Road, Blackburn, on Saturday, February 2. For her other gig dates or more information visit http://www.myspace.com/charlottesoul