Estelle Fanta Swaray (born 18 January 1980) commonly known as Estelle, and formerly as Est'elle, is an English R&B singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer. Estelle was born in London. After meeting John Legend, Estelle signed a record deal with V2 and Atlantic Records.
In 2004 Estelle released her debut album The 18th Day, which peaked with in the top 40 of the official UK charts. The album released three singles "1980", "Free", and "Go Gone" which all charted with in the top 40 also of the UK charts. In 2008 Estelle released her second studio album Shine which was certified Gold in the UK. The lead single "Wait A Minute" failed to chart anywhere. The second single "American Boy" peaked at number one in the UK and also became Estelle's first song to chart in the US at a position of nine. The album released a further three singles. In 2012 Estelle released her third album All of Me. The lead single "Break My Heart" featured American rap artist Rick Ross, the single charted at number 30 on the US R&B Chart. The second single "Thankyou" peaked at 120 on the US Billboard and 22 on the US R&B chart and the third single "Back to Love" was released.
Estelle's work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including two MOBO awards, a World Music Award, and one Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "American Boy". She has also received two Brit Award nominations, including one for Best British Female Artist.
Estelle Fanta Swaray was born 18 January 1980 in Hammersmith, London, England. Born of a Senegalese mother and a Grenadian father, Estelle grew up in West London in a large family of eight brothers and sisters and an extended family of cousins. She went to the school called Christ school richmond. During childbirth, Estelle’s mother had a near death experience, which influenced Estelle's choice for her first album title, The 18th Day. Her mother was a huge reggae fan and her father built home-made speaker cabinets. She spent her childhood listening to her parent’s reggae records and her aunt’s soul collection. Estelle's parents were very religious when she was growing up and secular music was not allowed in the family's home. Instead, spiritual music—particularly American gospel and traditional African music—were what Estelle grew up listening to. Then she discovered hip hop. "I got into hip hop from my uncle, he was always playing us Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane; he was a bad boy and my mum wasn’t really happy that I was hanging out with him." Estelle got her break from "Deal Real" as her co-workers encouraged her to sing on-stage. Her performance led to gigs.
Her career got a jump-start in the early 2000s when she happened to see Kanye West sitting in a restaurant while on a trip to Los Angeles. Estelle approached Kanye, introduced herself and asked for an introduction to John Legend. She eventually got that introduction, and Legend eventually helped produce two songs on her debut album.
In 2004 she broke into the charts with "1980" and "Free" and won a MOBO Award for Best Newcomer. Both of the videos were directed by Andy Hylton and received much airplay on music channels. "Free" was written by Estelle and produced by Jimmy Hogarth. Her first album, The 18th Day charted at number 35 in the UK Albums Chart. Estelle teamed up with short lived pop band 3SL for their single "Touch Me Tease Me".
Shine is the second album by hip hop singer Estelle. The album was released on 31 March 2008 with the lead single, "Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)", released in November 2007. In 2008, Estelle rose to fame with her collaboration with rapper Kanye West, titled "American Boy". This song reached the top 10 in many countries worldwide, including the United States and Canada, as well as achieving number-one status on the UK Singles Chart. and in Belgium and Israel. The song won many awards worldwide, including Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. It was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 51st Grammy Awards. "American Boy" was Number 7 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008. The song was nominated for the 2009 Brit Award for Best British Single, and Estelle was also nominated for Best British Female Artist. Shine was released following the single on John Legend's HomeSchool label, reaching the albums chart in most countries worldwide, including number 6 in the UK. Shine sold enough copies to be certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry, and was shortlisted for the prestigious 2008 Mercury Music Prize. Shine has been certified Gold in the UK, denoting 100,000 copies sold. The album has sold 233,000 copies in the United States as of January 2012. Shine was one of the twelve nominees for the 2008 Mercury Prize.
Estelle has also released a new single with American rapper Busta Rhymes called "World Go Round", from his album Back on My B.S., which was released on 19 May 2009. In February 2009, the song "Star" was released; it is also used for Crystal Light commercials. In 2009, Estelle started working on her upcoming third studio album, All of Me. On 21 August it was confirmed that Estelle was working with David Guetta on the upcoming album. Estelle recently made a cameo appearance in the video for new star Mr Hudson for his single "Supernova". Estelle made an appearance on 11 August 2009 episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. She performed the song "Good Girls Go Bad" with Cobra Starship in Leighton Meester's absence. Estelle also appears on the song "Rollacoasta", co-written by her and American singer-songwriter Robin Thicke, with whom the song appears on his album, Sex Therapy.
Estelle confirmed her third album would be titled All of Me. The album was originally led by the single "Freak" featuring Kardinal Offishall and produced by David Guetta. The video premiered on her website on 26 February 2010. The original second single from the album was announced as being "Fall in Love", which featured versions featuring Nas and John Legend. Due to the underperformance of both "Freak" and "Fall in Love", both songs were ultimately left off the final track listing for All of Me. However, "Freak" was featured on both the Step Up 3D soundtrack and the reissue of David Guetta's album One Love, titled One More Love. In 2010, Estelle also modelled at Naomi Campbell's Fashion For Relief runway show for The White Ribbon Alliance to raise funds for mothers in Haiti. She was also featured on Reflection Eternal's new album with the song Midnight Hour and last track of Gucci Mane's album The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted.
In 2011, it was announced that "Break My Heart", featuring Rick Ross would be released as the new lead single from All of Me. It was released for download on 26 April 2011 and released to US urban radio stations on 17 May 2011. The song peaked at 33 on the U.S. Hip-Hop/R&B, the week of 2 July 2011. The following week the song rose to 37. Dual second singles were released in the US and UK. In the US, the second single was announced as being "Thank You" whereas "Back to Love" was issued in the UK. Estelle subsequently confirmed on Twitter that All of Me will be released on 28 February 2012 in the US. In the UK, All of Me will be released on 12 March 2012.
Estelle's taste in music ranges from Kanye West, Nas, Jill Scott and Jay-Z. Her main female musical influences are Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott saying in an interview "I like female artists who show that women don't have to strip off or compromise themselves to be recognized as musicians."
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Image from Discogs