Folk-Pop Princess Dido

UPDATED 12/01/2003 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/01/2003 at 01:00 AM EST

AGE: 31
NEW CD: Life for Rent

Why you know her: Her breakup anthem "White Flag" sent her latest album to the top of the charts. And we're still humming her 1999 single "Thankyou," which found new life when Eminem sampled it on his 2000 hit "Stan."

In the beginning: Raised in London by book publisher William Armstrong and his poet wife, Clare, Dido studied law and worked as a literary agent before she started singing with her older brother Rollo and his band. "My parents still think this is a complete fluke," she says.

Perks of fame: She relishes her relative anonymity. "Dido is the most low-key pop star you'll ever meet," says Arista Records chief Antonio "L.A." Reid. "I blend in," agrees the singer, who still rides the bus in London. When she does get recognized, "I'll lie. Something that shuts them up—I'll tell them I'm a prostitute if I have to. But then it'll be a 'Dido a Prostitute!' shocker headline in the tabs."

Love life: Her recent breakup with her boyfriend of seven years reportedly inspired "White Flag." Now dabbling in dating, she laughs about one recent pickup line. "The guy was like, 'What's your name?' I said, 'Dido.' And he said, 'Oh cool, is that spelled like the singer?' " (Note to potential suitors: She actually went out with him.)

Where she's headed: She's starting a yearlong world tour in the spring. The one downside? "It's just so wrong, the tea in America," she says. "It's not hot, the water is just warm. And they put the tea bag in afterwards, which is so wrong. I get home and the first thing I do is have a proper cup of tea."

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