You may know the voice. You might well recognise the face. You’ll almost certainly recall the hair. After a good few stints helping some of pop’s brightest stars out on their hits, Ella Eyre – for it is she – is just about ready to go it alone.
Her first proper debut tune If I Go is out tomorrow, and it’s pretty exciting. But if you don’t know much about her, fear not. We’ve got a quick guide to the future star whose voice is every bit as powerful and memorable as that impressive mane.
She nearly wasn’t a singer at all
When Ella was growing up in Ealing, London, she had plenty of lung power, but for a very different reason. The deep breaths young Ella was taking were not for singing, but for swimming.
Such was Ella’s talent in the pool, she won a scholarship to super-posh, super-sporty boarding school Millfield in Somerset. Problems with her ears meant the life aquatic moved out of her reach, so she turned her hand to performing, starring as Tallulah in a school production of musical favourite Bugsy Malone. Ella certainly got the 'bug' – and the BRIT School beckoned. So off she went.
Errr, she went to the BRIT School
Boasting mega-famous alumni such as Adele, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Katy B and Jessie J, Ella Eyre studied musical theatre at the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon, London – a hothouse of UK talent.
It seemed as though Ella was destined for a career in the West End treading the boards and belting out the big numbers. But then she was in the audience when Adele sang her show-stopping version of Someone Like You at the 2011 BRIT Awards – Ella was on a school trip, basically – and was blown away. She’s said in interviews that was the moment she realised she wanted to be a popstar.
She’s already had a Number 1, thanks
Yep, our Ella is one of those artists who got her big break lending her vocal chops to someone else’s hit. Rudimental were so impressed by her voice, they asked her to be female vocalist on their UK tour. And then came mighty Number 1 hit Waiting All Night. The track, taken from the quartet’s debut album Right Here, proved so popular when Ella performed it with Rudimental on tour, that they decided it should be a single. And that turned out to be a very good decision indeed. As we shall see. Waiting All Night hit Number 1 in April 2013 and has sold over 770,000 copies in the UK – it finished as 12th bestselling single of 2013.
In fact, she’s queen of the collaborations
Ella attracted attention when she contributed vocals to Bastille’s mashup of TLC’s No Scrubs and The xx’s Angels. The track, known as No Angels, featured on the band’s Other People’s Heartache Pt 2 mixtape. Originally, Ella had been supposed to contribute only to track Free (based on Tina Turner’s Private Dancer and also on the mixtape), but the guys asked her to lend a hand on No Angels and loved her vocals so much, she made it onto the mixtape again. Take a look at where you can catch Bastille live this summer and buy tickets.
She’s also lent a hand – well, her voice – to tracks by Naughty Boy and Tinie Tempah. To say Ella is well connected is an understatement.
She narrowly lost out to Sam Smith TWICE
When it comes to the BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll, even Ella would probably admit there are far worse artists to come second to. Judges chose Sam Smith to take the prize. She also came runner-up to our Sam in the BRIT Award for Critics’ Choice, and he’s doing pretty well, scoring two Number 1 singles this year and a chart-topping album. But of course, Ella’s BRIT Award dreams weren’t quite over yet…
She’s got herself a BRIT Award too
So, you know how we were just saying releasing Waiting All Night was a top move? The track went home with the award for Best British Single at the BRIT Awards 2014. And just to prove it really deserved it, Ella rocked the stage at the O2 at the ceremony in an amazing performance of the track mashed up with Pompeii by her old buddies Bastille, and had a hit with it all over again. The new version reached Number 21 in February.
Her hair is famous
No. really, it is. You can’t read an interview with Ella without reading her hair. Heck, we barely got two lines into this article before we were banging on about it. Ella’s lustrous locks, which she puts down to being “half-Jamaican, half-Maltese and lot of hairspray” get almost as much attention as her music.
“I get a lot of tweets about my hair,” she said in an interview with Vice. There’s even a hashtag: #ellashair. And it’s not just fans who are obsessed with the Eyre hair – her mates are too. Collaborators Rudimental call her “Ella’s Hair” instead of “Ella Eyre”. Not that Ella is too bothered with the wildcat’s mane comparisons – she’s even incorporated a lion into her logo. See?
Ella still might have one more dream collaboration in her
While Ella is now very much about the solo career and getting her own music into people’s ears, she has said in interviews that she’d love to collaborate with London house duo Basement Jaxx. Ella grew up listening to them and their 2003 Top 10 album Kish Kash was, she says, the first record she ever bought.
She’s been known to perform their 2004 hit Good Luck live, and here it is now. You can catch Basement Jaxx on tour this year – find out where they're playing and buy tickets.
Can Ella score a second Number 1 single – and a first one all of her very own? If I Go is out tomorrow and the rest depends on you…
Check out the video for Deeper, from an EP Ella put out last year. If you fancy seeing Ella's hair up close and personal, take a look at her live dates this year and buy tickets.
The Rudimental effect
Other singers who’ve got their big break with Rudimental.
John Newman, who Ella dated for a while, scored a Number 1 with the band on Feel The Love, before landing a chart-topper of his very own in 2013 with Love Me Again. How debut solo album Tribute also topped the Official Albums Chart.
Becky Hill found fame on The Voice, but thanks to a cover of Rudimental track Not Giving In, she ended up performing with the group on stage at Glastonbury, Lovebox and Bestival in 2013. She had her debut Top 10 hit providing vocals on Wilkinson’s Number 8 hit Afterglow in 2013, before scoring her very first Number 1 hit with Oliver Heldens, on Gecko (Overdrive) this summer.