Dynamic, energetic and refreshingly authentic are just a few words to describe Grammy-award winning recording artist Estelle. On Thursday night, The Park Live and Beny Blaq Entertainment presented Estelle, live in concert; granting Estelle fans access to the UK born singer-songwriter who is sweeping the world by storm.
Estelle first came onto the music scene in 2004 with her debut album “The 18th Day” and within weeks, her album was climbing the UK charts with 2 smash hits. 4 years later, Estelle teamed up with Kanye West on the single “American Boy”, and the rest, as they say, is history. American Boy peaked in the Top 10 charts worldwide – from the US to Canada to Israel to the UK to Belgium, American Boy was in the top 10 in an unprecedented number of countries and the single catapulted Estelle from being a hit in the UK, to international fame. American Boy received 10 award nominations – winning a Grammy, The 02 Silver Clef Award and a MOBO Award. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the single as # 7 in their “100 Best Songs” for 2008 and that same year, Estelle released her sophomore album, “Shine” – which went gold in the UK. In 2011, Estelle dropped her third album, “All of Me”, and the first single released in the US, “Break My Heart” featuring Rick Ross, is already climbing the charts and receiving considerable radio airplay.
An impressive journey for a young singer, but even more impressive is her live performance. Estelle exudes an authenticity that is evident and infectious from the moment she hits the stage. She is clearly an artist with star status but down to earth qualities. “I apologize for being late”, Estelle shared with the audience in her heavy British accent, “but I just flew in from LA and they lost my luggage. I could do without my outfit, yeah, but my shoes. If they take my shoes, that’s beef.” And with out missing a beat, she asked the crowd, “You gonna vibe with me“, which came across as less of a question and more of a ‘now that we’ve got that out the way – let’s jam’. And jam she did. Estelle opened her set with “Just a touch” and “No Substitute Love”, and then she took a few moments to interact with her fans. “So if you’re in here and single, ladies, you do a dance like this“, Estelle demonstrates, “to the guys. And fella’s if you’re single, your dance is like this“. Estelle had a dance for everyone – the single ladies, the single men, the couples. She even brought Big Tigger, host of The Big Tigger Morning Show on 95.5 WPGC-FM, on stage to demonstrate a few of Estelle’s “single lady” moves. She follow up the dance demonstration with a very important message for her fans – “This aint a ‘look at Estelle’ party, this is a have some fun party“; and fun is exactly what was had.
“Come over” (feat. Sean Paul), a mellow reggaeton type of track put fans in a relaxed mood, but it was the next song, “Freak” (feat. Kardinal Offishall), that turned up the heat in The Park. An up-tempo house-esque track that includes a hook sample from Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life” was definitely a favorite among Estelle fans. And with the finesse of an artist who knows how to deliver on stage, Estelle did not pause a beat before launching into her Grammy winning hit single, “American Boy“. Clearly a crowd favorite, it seemed every person in the Park was singing every lyric, beat for beat, with Estelle. In fact, it seemed that Estelle noticed it and allowed her fans to show her a thing or two, by allowing the crowd to sing the song without her. And sing they did – DC fans did not miss a word, beat or note of the song – at that point, they were singing Estelle’s song, to Estelle and she genuinely seemed tickled, humbled and grateful all at the same time.
“Thank you“, Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” and “Break my Heart” *(feat. Rick Ross) closed out her set and it seemed that Estelle and her fans alike, loved every minute of her performance. As the music began to fade on the final song, Break My Heart, Estelle kind of kept going, repeating “Just lean with it, just rock with it.“, and then she stated “I freakin’ love you guys!!“, leaving the stage as the crowd continued to applaud. It was evident that as a singer, Estelle brings authenticity to her craft. She engages the audience with a polite demand that the fans engage back, and tonight at the Park on 14th, her audience definitely engaged back – tenfold.
After the show I sat down with Estelle for a few moments to talk musical collaborations, family and more…..
You’ve collaborated with some of the best in the business: Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, David Guetta, Robin Thicke, Gucci Mane and Rick Ross to name a few. Who was one of the most memorable to work with and who would you like to work with in the future?
David Guetta was one of the most memorable, it was such a good vibe, it fit so nice. He wanted to work with me and that’s a big thing, and it was like, you know, he wanted to work with me and I was like “Oh my God, you know my name”. He’s sweet. It was just a whole moment like wow, people are really starting to get where I’m coming from as an artist.
In the future, I’d love to work with Mary J Blige, I love her. I’d love to work with Monica, and I’d love to work with Trina as well.
You come from a large family, growing up you were influenced musically by your parents’ reggae albums and your aunts’ soul albums, but it was your uncle who introduced you to hip-hop. How influential has family been to your music and your performances on stage.
Family is huge to me, I feel whatever is in my songs – we’ve all been through things. We all know what this feels like or that feels like, because we are all here singing along to it. I’m actually honored that people are on the same wavelength with me, for a long time I thought I was the outsider, the weird one. So when I sing and people say I’ve been through the same thing or I reacted the same way, I’m like, okay, I’m not crazy, they get it and they get me. It’s like indirectly we are part of this larger universal family and I like that.
As far as my family, they mean everything to me. I talk to my sister almost every day, we are so close it’s a problem. And I love people, I see fans on the street and they’re like “Hey Estelle, hello there, hey” and I love that feeling. I feel like there’s stardom, and that’s okay but I want people to feel like they can reach out to me, they understand what I’m going thru. Because that’s why I write the songs, I don’t write because I want to be famous, I write songs because people have told me ‘there’s something else here’ and I get that and understand that and that’s what makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m on my purpose. you know. So when I write and people react like that, the way they do – I’m like “I’m doing it right, I’m doing it right, I’m good”.
You bring such high energy to your stage performance, where does that come from and why is it important for your fans to play their part?
That’s all God. Like we all pray together before we get on stage. I’m like “I need you Holy Spirit, come and help us” and when we pray before we go on, I feel like He comes through every time. Sometimes I’m tired as hell, sometimes I can hardly sing. But the energy comes from somewhere, everytime.
As far as the way I vibe with my fans, my thing is you paid your money to come and watch me sing. I’m not just going to sit here and sing at you. You’re going to have fun. I feel like, you’ve paid to come into a club or venue; you want to have fun, right? I don’t understand the “I’m just going to stare at you, whoa, well that was good“. No – I want them to feel like they left with something. Whenever I leave a show, and I’m a fan first, I like to feel like “I’ve left with something, so let me keep going, you know“. I feel inspired and like whatever I’m going through, life is good. And so I want my fans to feel that same thing, that inspiration, that good feeling, that something that lets them keep going too.
For more information on Estelle, visit her Website, follow her on Twitter, or “Like” her on Facebook.