British singer and songwriter Estelle skyrocketed up the charts in 2009 with her Grammy-winning single “American Boy,” featuring Kanye West. The other collaborators on that album, “Shine,” reads like a “Who’s Who” list of the music industry: Wyclef Jean, Will.i.am, Mark Ronson, Cee-Lo Green and Jack Splash.
Since then, Estelle has continued to record—“One Love” with David Guetta became an anthem for the LGBT community—and she started two independent record labels. Estelle has also pursued acting, appearing on Fox’s “Empire” and as herself in the hit film “Girls Trip.”
The daughter of immigrants from Senegal and Grenada has not forgotten her West London roots, but now calls Los Angeles home. She’ll bring her eclectic musical style to the beach on Sunday, Feb. 11 when she performs at Pride Fort Lauderdale.
SFGN recently got the opportunity to ask the artist 10 questions about her life and music:
What were your musical influences when you were young?
My influences range from Ella Fitzgerald to Mary J. Blige (and) reggae artists like Freddie McGregor to blues great (John) Coltrane. Great music essentially.
In what ways has your music evolved over the years?
I’ve always kept it super free when it comes to my music. No album has been defined sound-wise by one song, which helps for when I feel a particular way about a particular feeling. I feel like it’s a diary almost of my life.
You’ve done many successful collaborations. What makes them work?
A shared interest in having fun while in the studio.
You started your own label. Last week at the Grammys, independent labels racked up lots of wins. What’s the vision for your label?
I started my own label in 2012, it’s my second independent label. The vision is always to contribute to the music industry in a great way while helping other young people hit their goals.
SFGN: What influenced your strong and vocal embrace of the LGBTQ community?
Estelle: The idea that beyond and above it all, love reigns. I don’t see the LGBTQ community as separate from society or humanity, because we are all one.
Are you looking forward to performing at Pride Fort Lauderdale?
Yes, I’m looking forward to performing at Pride. I’ve been to South Florida many times.
When you’re not in the studio or touring, how do you relax?
Cooking is one of my ways to relax. I do a livestream once a month on my Facebook called, “Cook What’s In Your Kitchen.”
What’s one thing our readers might never guess about you?
I come from a very large family—I’m one of nine brothers and sisters!
Estelle will perform on Sunday, Feb. 11 at Pride Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. Admission is free. More information at PrideFortLauderdale.org.
J.W. Arnold is a member of the board of directors of Pride Fort Lauderdale.