Estelle Fanta Swaray (born 18 January 1980) commonly known as Estelle, and formerly as Est'elle, is a Grammy-Award Winning 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.
Able to rap, sing, and write songs that had everyone from John Legend to Roots Manuva singing her praises, Estelle Swaray got her start in London's renowned hip-hop record store Deal Real. Her fellow employees encouraged her to take a chance and get on the mic on-stage; soon she was playing numerous London clubs and appearing with the likes of Manuva and Rodney P. Local hero Skitz asked her to appear on his 2000 album, Countryman, and soon she landed on albums by the likes of the 57th Dynasty and Blak Twang. She made her solo debut in 2003 with the Excuse Me 12" on the Paradise Isle label, but her breakthrough track came in 2004 when "1980" was released by the V2 label and reached number 14 on the U.K. pop chart. A street-level mixtape series called Da Heat and further 12"s like "Free" and "Go Gone" helped build a loyal following, and Estelle gave back to the U.K. hip-hop scene by forming her own Stellarents label to sign new artists. In October 2004, V2 released her debut album, The 18th Day. Three years later, U.S. R&B singer John Legend announced that Estelle would be the first signee to his Homeschool label, distributed by Atlantic in the U.S. Her sophomore album, Shine, was released in April 2008 and peaked at number six in the U.K., while its biggest single, "American Boy," topped the U.K. chart and, in the U.S., reached the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100. In February 2012, following the Top 30 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop single "Break My Heart" (featuring Rick Ross), Estelle released album number three, All of Me.
In 2004 Estelle released her debut album The 18th Day, which peaked within the top 40 of the official UK charts. The album released three singles "1980", "Free", and "Go Gone" which all charted within 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 "Thank You" peaked at 120 on the US Billboard and 22 on the U.S. 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.
In 2013, Estelle announced the launch of New London Records, an independent label in partnership with BMG, with whom she's worked as a writer since 2003. Estelle will release the second and third volumes of her three-volume EP Love & Happiness on the new label (the first volume, Love Jones, was released in June), taking creative control of her current and future musical endeavors. "This is a new and exciting move for me," Estelle said in a press release. “BMG has been an awesome partner throughout my career, and with New London we plan to continue bridging the gap between soul, pop, London and New York -- uniting them through music." Added BMG executive president Richard Blackstone, “Estelle has been a valued member of the BMG family as a writer for some time now. She is a deeply passionate artist gifted with a tremendous voice and has music running through her veins. We are thrilled that Estelle has expanded our relationship and entered into a new partnership with BMG Label Services to release her upcoming album.”
Estelle first gained notoriety with the Grammy-winning "American Boy," which featured Kanye West and performed well on charts around the world, cracking the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the sixth best-selling single of 2008. Since then, she has released two LPs, Shine and All of Me, with BMG. Her fourth studio album is slated for release in February 2014. She is currently voicing Garnet in the animated series Steven Universe.
In 2013, Estelle voiced the character Splettar The African Robot female in Real Steel.
Estelle's tastes in music encompass Kanye West, Nas, Jill Scott and Jay-Z. Her main female musical influences are Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott; in an interview, she has said: "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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