| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Russian-born beauty Oksana Grigorieva, the soon-to-be mom of Mel Gibson's child, is ready to step out into the limelight on her own terms -- not as the girlfriend of an A-list celebrity.
The 39-year-old classical pianist, who is releasing her debut pop album "Beautiful Heartache" on iTunes and her own web site through Gibson's Icon Entertainment, has been a subject of fascination since the Oscar-winning director and actor went public with their relationship after his wife of nearly 30 years, Robyn, filed for divorce in April 2009.
Grigorieva said she is very much in love with the "Braveheart" actor, but plans to keep separate residences for now. She wants the public and media to learn who she is.
"I'd like to be judged if so, by my art, by my music. That's primarily why I'm here. Of course, if the tabloids wrote the truth about most of people, maybe it would be really boring," Grigorieva told Reuters in her first interview.
"(Music) is what I've been doing since I'm 3 years old," said Grigorieva, who will give birth to her child in December.
Grigorieva also has a 12-year-old son, Alexander, with former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton, but she and Dalton parted ways seven years ago and share joint custody.
Since Gibson's breakup, the public has heard little from Grigorieva who has been modeling for years and honing her musical skills, while devoting herself to raising her son in Los Angeles for past 10 years. Now, she has something to say.
"I've been working on my music all along, but eventually art has to be shared. My heart is in writing and creation, but of course only when you share it with others, do you feel fully happy or fulfilled," she said.
"Beautiful Heartache" features a collection of wistful love songs, blending shimmering string arrangements with pop and jazz-influenced arrangements that showcase Grigorieva's soulful voice. Gibson directed videos for four of the songs.
VERY MUCH IN LOVE
She told Reuters she is very much in love with Gibson, 53, whom she started dating after his infamous 2006 arrest for driving under the influence in Malibu, California, when he made a string of anti-Semitic remarks that set off a worldwide media frenzy and damaged his standing in Hollywood.
Gibson apologized for his self-described "despicable behavior" in the Malibu arrest and sought counseling.
When asked if she was concerned about how that controversy will affect perceptions of her personally, Grigorieva said: "How can I be judged for falling in love? We live in the same city. I don't control who I meet. I meet many people in art and music and film, but love is inexplicable.
"He's not that person at all in my opinion. He apologized. I think he respects everybody," she said.
Grigorieva started playing piano at age 3 and writing music at 7. She credits her parents for her fierce devotion to music because both taught music and filled their home with songs.
Grigorieva moved to the United Kingdom at age 19 to study at the Royal College and Trinity College, supporting herself by teaching music to kids and adults.
She modeled in the United States and United Kingdom while balancing her duties as a mom. Her first break as a songwriter came in 2006 when her song "Un Dia Llegara" became a hit for Josh Groban on his album "Awake." That recording led to contract offers from various companies, including Gibson's Icon Entertainment.
Grigorieva said the two had a professional rapport before becoming romantically attached. "It's not like I was planning to meet Mel specifically. Life happens.
"There was a working relationship for a long time. I thought he was happily married until I was reassured otherwise. And then it happened," she said.
Asked whether or not marriage was on the table, Grigorieva grinned: "Marriage? I don't know. If it happens, I'll tell you. We're just very happy. He's an amazing man," she said.