Mika ( born Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.; 18 August 1983) is a British singer-songwriter. After recording his first extended play, Dodgy Holiday EP, Mika released his first full-length studio album, Life in Cartoon Motion, on Island Records in 2007. Life in Cartoon Motion sold more than 5.6 million copies worldwide and helped Mika win a Brit Award-winning Best British Breakthrough act, and receive a Grammy Award nomination. In 2006, Mika started up his company, Dodgy Holiday Tours Limited. Two years later Mika released his second extended play, Songs for Sorrow, of which limited edition copies are now sold out worldwide. In 2009 Mika released his second studio album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much. Finishing his worldwide tour, Mika started writing and recording material for his third album, The Origin of Love, stating it will be "more simplistic pop, less layered than the last one". The album will be released on 16 September 2012. Mika was born in Beirut, the third of five children born to a Syrian mother and an American father. When he was a year old his family was forced to leave war-torn Lebanon and moved to Paris. The first piano piece he learned to play was "Les Champs-Élysées", by Joe Dassin. At age seven, he wrote his first song, which he describes as an "awful" piano instrumental called "Angry". The family moved to London when he was nine years old. There, he attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, where he experienced severe bullying. He also had problems with dyslexia. In response to these experiences Mika was home-schooled by his mother at the age of 12, for six to eight months. He then attended St Philip's School in Kensington, where he was the head of the Schola Cantorum (the St. Philip's Choir). Later he attended Westminster School and the Royal College of Music, which he left to record his first album at Casablanca Records. He has also slightly altered his given name, Mica, changing the "c" to a "k" because he was frustrated by how often people would mispronounce it. Mika has one younger brother and one younger sister along with two older sisters. His sister Yasmine, who works as an artist under the nom de plume DaWack, painted the cartoon art for his two albums Life in Cartoon Motion and The Boy Who Knew Too Much, and she is currently a fashion designer. Mika speaks French and Spanish fluently; in an interview on 28 September 2009 with The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 he commented that he had taken Mandarin Chinese for 9 years but did not speak it very well; he also mentioned that his three sisters did all speak it fluently. He also speaks a little bit of Arabic with a Lebanese dialect, his mother's native tongue. As a child Mika was trained by Alla Ardakov (Ablaberdyeva), a Russian opera professional, and later attended the Royal College of Music in London. His debut radio appearance was on Dermot O'Leary's BBC Radio 2 show in September 2006. He also appeared on Later... with Jools Holland, and on The Friday Night Project on 19 January 2007. Mika is rumoured to have a vocal range of five octaves, but claims that it is actually closer to three and a half octaves. Mika denied allegations that he is steering clear of sexual taboos in order to appeal to the US market, pointing to the song "Billy Brown", which is about a married man who has an affair with another man. He is quoted as saying, "If I was worried about sexual taboos I certainly wouldn't have made the record I made. It has nothing to do with that. It has more to do with self-respect." In an interview in the US gay magazine Out he stated that "there is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels." In a September 2009 interview in Gay & Night Mika commented on his sexuality: "I've never ever labelled myself. But having said that; I've never limited my life, I've never limited who I sleep with... Call me whatever you want. Call me bisexual, if you need a term for me..." Later he stated in an interview with This Is London "I consider myself label-less because I could fall in love with anybody - literally - any type, any body. I'm not picky." In an August 2012 interview with the magazine Instinct, the singer described himself as gay. In March 2010, Mika was named in France a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for services to music.