Born & Raised:
Full name: Estelle Swaray.
Born: Jan. 18, 1980 in London, England. She was raised in West London, but currently lives in New York City.
Estelle Swaray was born and raised in West London, England. Her mother's family came from the West African nation of Senegal, and her father is from the small Caribbean island of Grenada. She was the second born of eight children. Estelle's parent's were very religious when she was growing up, and secular music wasn't allowed in the family's home. Instead, spiritual music -- particularly American gospel -- and traditional African music were what Estelle grew up listening to. She's previously revealed though, that she would sometimes listen to hip-hop when not at home. By the time she was in her early 20s, she had decided on a music career.
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, The 18th Day, which was released in the UK in October 2004. The album took its title after how Estelle's mother almost died while giving birth to the future singer on January 18. The album was a modest success, debuting at No. 35 on the UK albums chart, and generating two top 20 singles. She also received a MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award in the UK for Best Newcomer.
Four years after The 18th Day's release, Estelle returned with her sophomore album, Shine. Though it was her second album, it was the first to be released in the U.S. and her major-label debut. The pop-ish lead single, "American Boy," featuring Kanye West was her first international hit and reached the top 10 in at least a dozen countries, including the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia and Turkey. To date, it remains her most successful song, well ahead of the next-most successful, "Break My Heart," which features the rapper Rick Ross. "Break My Heart" is the lead single off her third album, All of Me, which was released in February 2012.
2012: All of Me.
2004: The 18th Day.
2009: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy for "American Boy" (with Kanye West).
2008: World Music Award for Best New R&B Act.
2008: MOBO Award for Best UK Female.
2008: MOBO Award for Best Song, for "American Boy."
"Every three years they are talking about the 'British (musical) invasion.' It's been ongoing. It's been an invasion for the last 10 years. We are here! We crossed over. I'm like one of the first black British artists to come over here and win a Grammy. We are here!" -- to UrbanBridgez.com, June 2011.