Pop singer Estelle Swaray (first name only, please) had a modest brush with stardom in her native England when her single “1980” climbed to number 14 on the U.K. charts in 2004. But now the 28-year-old chanteuse hopes to take the States by storm—with a little help from her friends. John Legend executive produced her sophomore album Shine, out April 29, and Kanye West, Will.i.am, Wyclef Jean and Jack Splash have worked on tracks.
Legend seems certain of his pet project. “Lauryn Hill is an appropriate comparison,” he insists.
This story first appeared in the March 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Born to African immigrants, the West Londoner is the second oldest of eight children.
AND A SIDE OF FAME: Estelle met Legend two years ago at L.A.’s iconic eatery Roscoe’s House of Chicken ’n Waffles. The singer, who already had one album under her belt, introduced herself, but “it wasn’t like she was trying to get signed,” Legend recalls. Still, he invited Estelle to his recording studio later that afternoon.
URBAN LEGEND: The video for “Wait a Minute, Just a Touch” (the new album’s lead single, in which Legend plays a love-struck bouncer opposite the singer) set blogs abuzz about a possible affair between the two. Estelle insists it’s speculation.
FASHION PHILOSOPHY: “If you are wearing Chanel, you shouldn’t be wearing 100 percent Chanel,” she says, instead balancing pieces from the French label with separates from Topshop. And while the singer considers Audrey Hepburn a style icon, she adds, “I still want to stay ‘hood.’”
ALMOST FAMOUS: At least for now, Estelle doesn’t get recognized much near her Brooklyn home. “Some girl came up to me on the train and said, ‘I love your voice’” Estelle recalls. “And I said, ‘Oh my Jesus, you just scared the crap out of me.’”