August 2, 2008

Estelle Excels in Her U.S. Debut

By Samuels, Adrienne P

British artist joins American music landscape The modern-day British invasion continues with Estelle, who brings her light- hearted vocals and reggae-soul beats to the American music scene. Born Estelle Swaray, the 28-year-old singer/songwriter/producer/ rapper first popped onto the U.S. charts end of last year with two fresh songs. One of her new tunes, "American Boy," is a catchy ditty that pays homage to urban guys, urban neighborhoods and their style.

It hasn't been an easy road for this emerging diva, who scandalously traded her old record label for Homeschool, a new label owned by both John Legend and Atlantic Records. She had to buy out her old contract, something that few artists are willing to do given difficult-to-maneuver copyright laws and songwriting credits. But she says it's the best thing she could have done. Now, by working with Legend on her recently released album Shine, she has been able to team up with Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Cee-lo of Gnarls Barkley and, among others.

EBONY talked with Estelle as she zipped through the German countryside, headed to her next concert.

* Why did you leave your old label? "There was potential with me but they didn't quite know what to do. I just said, 'Please let me go,' and they did... They charged. I had a buyout. Atlantic and John Legend, they took care of that. Thank God. I know that's really rare nowadays. But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I just asked John, 'Dude, I have to leave this label, and I'm looking for another.'"

*Do you want to date an American boy? How'sthe dating life going? (She laughs.) "I'm looking for a boy. I'm so headstrong. Guys have often told me I'm more like a guy than a girl, and that apparently is my problem. I'm a handful, and it'll take a very strong man to handle me, to carry me or catch me."

* Who's the better rapper, you or Kanye? "Ha ha ha ha ha ha. I'd have to say me. He's a close second! Nah, I'm playing. He's one of the best right now. It's my rapper ego coming in right now. He's very good."

* Who's on your iPod? "Oh, lemme take a look. I listen to almost everything. Charlie Parker, Tina Turner, Slum Village, Andre 3000, Gnarls Barkley, Stevie Wonder, the Sylvers, Buju Banton. It goes across and continues."

* People compare you to Lauryn Hill. "I think if people listen to my album in 10 years, I'll be happy. I listen to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill like it's fresh, like it was recorded yesterday. Please put me in that pile all you want! I think she's a legend. I've been in the game 10 years myself. If people really listen to this album and relate to it, I'm happy. Thank you."

-Adrienne P. Samuels

Copyright Johnson Publishing Company Aug 2008

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