Estelle’s Musical Journey – From Kanye To Empire

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2016)
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Full name: Estelle Swaray.

Born: Jan. 18, 1980 in London, England. She was raised in West London, but currently lives in New York City.

Parents are of Senegalese and Grenadian descent.

Family: Second born out of eight children

Occupation: She’s a singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress.

Early childhood

While growing up, her parents were very religious and secular music was not allowed in the house. Estelle grew up listening to spiritual music especially American gospel and traditional African music. At times she would listen to hip hop when not at home. Estelle’s mother was a reggae fan while her dad made homemade speaker cabinets to play music.

Musical interests

She spent her childhood listening to her parents’ reggae records and her aunt’s soul collection before discovering 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”.

By the time she was in her early 20s, she had decided on a music career.

Musical beginning

Estelle 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 artists such as The 57th Dynasty and Blak Twang. She made her solo debut in 2003 with the 12″ “Excuse Me”, released on the label Paradise Isle.

Musical climb

Her career got a jump-start in the early 2000’s 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.

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Legend eventually helped produce two songs on her debut album, The 18th Day in 2006. The album took its title after how Estelle’s mother almost died while giving birth to the future singer on January 18.

Estelle makes it big!

Three years later, 2008, US R&B singer John Legend announced that Estelle would be the first signee to his Homeschool label, distributed by Atlantic in the US. Four years after The 18th Days release, Estelle returned with her second album, Shine.

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From the album, Estelle’s first international hit song was ‘American Boy’ which reached the top 10 in at least a few countries like US,Canada,Ireland,Australia and Turkey.

The song was nominated for the 2009 Brit Award for Best British Single, and Estelle was also nominated for Best British Female Artist.

Another record off Shine that was very popular in Kenya is Come over.

Estelle ‘All of Me’

Estelle’s third album was confirmed to be All of Me in 2010.

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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. 

“Freak” was featured on both the Step Up 3D soundtrack and the reissue of David Guetta’s album One Love, titled One More Love. 

The original second single from the album was announced as being “Fall in Love”, which featured versions featuring Nas and John Legend.

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 US Hip-Hop/R&B, the week of 2 July 2011.

Her second single was Thank You released in 2012.

Boss Moves

In 2013, the UK singer signed a joint deal with John Legend’s Homeschool Records and Atlantic Records to start her own imprint New London Records, with a continued publishing deal with BMG.

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In March 2014, she premiered the first single off her fourth album True Romance which was “Make Her Say (Beat It Up).” A heated video showing Estelle’s sexy side. 

The follow-up single “Conqueror” premiered on 15 July 2014.After numerous delays, the album was released on 17 February 2015 in the US. In 2015, Estelle guest starred in the hit Fox TV show Empire, singing the duet version of her single “Conqueror” with the hunkie Jussie Smollett, refueling sales of the single making it her biggest US hit since her Grammy-winning “American Boy” with Kanye West.

In 2016, Estelle is still making boss moves in her musical career as she will be performing at Nairobi’s Blankets and Wine at Ngong Racecourse.

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Will you be there? Keep it Varcity to know how you can be part of the audience to see the talented Estelle.

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