Estelle Fanta Swaray is a British singer-songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer, born January 18, 1980. Compared to other contemporary British sirens like Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy, Estelle is known for her eclectic mix of various musical genres including R&B, soul, reggae, grime, hip hop and dance. She has experienced mainstream success with the single "American Boy" featuring Kanye West, reaching number 1 in the United Kingdom and her collaboration with David Guetta in "One Love".
Early Life and Career
Swaray was born and raised in West London, England. Her mother's family resided from the West African nation of Senegal, and her father is from the Caribbean island of Grenada. She was the second born of eight children. 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. However, she would sometimes listen to hip hop when not at home. Her mother was a reggae fan and her dad built homemade speaker cabinets to play music through.
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".
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.