Born & Raised:
Real name: Andwele Gardner.
Born: 1979 in Detroit, Michigan. Raised in the Detroit area.
Andwele Gardner, profesionally known as Dwele (pronounced dwell-ay), was raised in Detroit in a highly musical family that suffered tragedy when his father was fatally shot outside the family's home when Dwele was 10. It was shortly after his father's murder that Dwele began writing songs. Dwele studied piano from the age of six, was a trumpeter in the schools marching and jazz bands and was to later learn bass and guitar.
Dwele has recalled that at the schools of his youth, he had very different tastes in music from other children, citing Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Roy Ayers and Miles Davis as favorites. After attending Cody High in Detroit, he spent a year studying music at Wayne State. He dropped out, however, and inspired by hip-hop innovators A Tribe Called Quest, Dwele became a rapper and collaborated with Detroit rap crew Slum Village. Eventually however, Dwele focused on singing as his main vocation.
After selling copies his 1998 demo The Rize out of his car on the streets of Detroit, Dwele was able to generate a significant buzz. A buzz which grew louder when he sang on the 2002 hit Slum Village single "Tainted," which catapulted both Dwele and Slum Village alike into the public consciousness. Eventually, Dwele signed a recording contract with Virgin Records and released his debut LP,Subject in 2003. His second album, Some Kinda, followed in 2005 and his third, Sketches of a Man, came out in June 2008.
About the Name:
His full first name, which is pronounced an-dwell-ay, means "God has brought me" in Swahili. The story goes that when Dwele's mother was pregnant with him, she was reading through a book with African names and every time she would say the name 'Andwele,' the baby would kick.
"The loss of my father really inspired my creative side. It was a really frustrating and confusing time for me. I think the music helped to guide me; it was crazy, but music was a way of expressing my emotions." -- Dwele