SHE may have missed out on a Grammy award to Christina Aguilera, but Scots singer KT Tunstall is achieving national recognition in America - all due to the country's equivalent of TV show The X Factor.
Tunstall has already achieved some recognition in America through the success of her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, which went platinum last year in the US and has clocked up global sales of 3.5 million.
But the 31-year-old, from St Andrews, is now on her way to national celebrity status in America after one of her songs, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, was sung by a contestant on reality TV show American Idol. The programme, created by X Factor judge Simon Cowell, is Amer-ica's top-rated programme and draws audiences of 33 million.
Tunstall licensed American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee - a runner-up on the show - to perform the foot-stomping track. Widespread interest in the song has catapulted it into this week's top ten list of adult contemporary songs compiled by American chart company Billboard.
Tunstall said: "My status as a musician in America is pretty much cemented by Katharine McPhee, which is really interesting and funny for me because I've never been polite about how I feel about shows like that.
"When she sang that song, less than one per cent of the population knew it. I was doing quite well but it was a totally underground song at the time. Then she does it. And it worked." Exposure on American Idol formed the cue for Tunstall's music to be used in a rash of mainstream television shows.
Excerpts from tracks were subsequently used in Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and Will & Grace. The singer's breakthrough hit, Suddenly I See, was used in the opening scene of last year's fashion satire film The Devil Wears Prada.
Until the American Idol explosion, the Scot's music had received airplay largely on alternative college-circuit radio, although she had received exposure on music television channel VH1.
Radio industry expert Paul Robinson said television had hoisted Tunstall into the big time: "The thing about radio in the US is it is all basically local. Acts tend to break in and then they gradually get national coverage.
If you suddenly get national television coverage, that's a huge kick."
While Tunstall lost out in best female pop vocal performance at the Grammys, her record label in America has pronounced itself delighted with its Scots star. Jason Flom, chief executive of Virgin Records in the US, said of Tunstall: "I'd love to clone her. She is the kind of artist that you look for and you dream about when you're in this business."
SCOTS BANDS IN FAVOUR OVER POND
SCOTS stars the Fratellis and Paolo Nutini are among a swathe of UK acts being heavily promoted across America this year.
They join emerging artists such as Lily Allen, The Feeling and James Morrison, all of whose albums are being launched in the US after UK success.
Nutini's These Streets was released in America at the end of last month, as was Lily Allen's debut Alright, while the Feeling's Twelve Stops and Home comes out on February 27.
The Fratellis - who picked up a Brit award this week - will see their debut album, Costello Music, launched in America in mid-March. But the band is enjoying an early surge of American interest because its song, Flathead, is featured in a current iPod television commercial.
This year's onslaught follows the American success of another Scots band, Snow Patrol, whose track Chasing Cars became a smash hit after being featured in Grey's Anatomy and became No 1 download on iTunes. It also received a Grammy nomination.
Nutini was last year nominated as one of Rolling Stone magazine's "ten artists to watch".
These Streets debuted in the top 50 of the Billboard album chart and his current American tour has been reorganised to include bigger venues. Nutini, from Paisley, has also had excerpts from his songs played in TV shows including CBS's CSI: Miami and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, a drama about a television comedy show. He is also appearing on popular US chat shows.
UK artists can - like K T Tunstall - experience sudden benefits when an established US artist covers their song. British songwriter David Gray had some American success with his breakthrough album White Ladder, but received a major boost across America in 2002 when the song Silver Lining was covered by blues singer Bonnie Raitt. The US star's version got wide main-stream airplay and lifted Gray's name in America.
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