Estelle Returns, Fresh Off ASmash Single and Breakup,with ‘All of Me’


“I be international. Catch me all
around the world,” Estelle **
purrs on “International (Serious)
,” a towering electro-hip-hop cut
featuring Chris Brown ** and
Trey Songz ** that appears on
the British singer’s long-delayed
third album, “All of Me.”
“That’s the hype song,” says
Estelle. “That’s me saying, ‘I’m
here and I’m back.’ This is what
I’ve really been doing for the
past three years: traveling and
performing everywhere, from
Shanghai to Moscow.”
It’s been almost four years since
Estelle Swaray hit gold with her
triumphant sophomore set,
“Shine,” which arrived on John
Legend **’s HomeSchool Records
(through Atlantic) in 2008. Shine
went on to sell 234,000 units in
the United States, according to
Nielsen SoundScan. Breakout
single “American Boy,” featuring
Kanye West **, has sold 2.3
million U.S. copies, peaked at No.
9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and
was nominated twice at the 51st
Grammy Awards for song of the
year and best rap/sung
collaboration, winning the latter
accolade.
“I was definitely blindsided by a
few moments,” Estelle says of
“Shine’s” run. “But for the most
part it was a case of, ‘Regroup.
Let’s go. How do we handle this
with the least amount of fuss?'”
In contrast, recording the follow-
up to “Shine” proved to be a
complicated, at times emotionally
painful experience. Originally
scheduled for release in 2010,
and then 2011, “All of Me” finally
arrived Feb. 28, once again on
HomeSchool/Atlantic. Estelle says
the delays were due to a
combination of touring and her
need for time away from the
music business.
“I took three years just to live
and grow and become a better
human,” says the 32-year-old,
who relocated to the States from
her native London several years
ago. “In order for me to write, I
have to experience life. I write
the songs based on real life and I
perform them from a very real
place.”
Writing the album coincided with
the end of a three-year
relationship, and the subject
drives many of the album’s 15
tracks, which span R&B, dance,
doo-wop and edgy, hook-laden
pop. Current single “Thank You,”
co-written by Akon and
produced by Jerry “Wonda”
Duplessis ( U2, the Black Eyed
Peas **), is a touching R&B ballad
chronicling the end of a love
affair.
Album tracks “Back to Love”;
“Break My Heart,” featuring Rick
Ross ** (which originally
surfaced last April); and the
defiantly upbeat “Wonderful
Life” also touch on heartbreak,
love and loss in unflinching
detail. Other standouts include
the summery dancehall swing of
“Do My Thing” (featuring Janelle
Monáe **) and “The Life,” a
boisterous hip-hop jam inspired
by Estelle’s rekindled love of
rapping.
“I wanted to give the album a
complete vulnerable taste of
Estelle-the Estelle that my family
knows,” she says. “I didn’t want
it to be [about] heartbreak.”
Atlantic Records senior VP
marketing Joi Pitts says that
Estelle stands out from the pack
due to “the tone of her voice, her
outlook on fashion and her
perspective on love and life, all
with a touch of her unique
British-meets-New York flavor.”
Estelle embarked on a
promotional tour of major and
secondary markets last fall, and
TV also plays a big part in the
album push. Appearances on
“The Tonight Show With Jay
Leno,” BET’s “Black Girls Rock!,”
TV One’s “Verses & Flow” and
VH1’s “Divas Celebrates Soul”
have already taken place, and
upcoming spots include BET’s
“Rip the Runway,” “Late Show
With David Letterman” and
“America’s Next Top Model:
British Invasion.” “Between red
carpets, TV appearances,
features in magazines or hosting
events, her visibility assisted in
making the transition from
‘Shine’ to the current album
much easier,” Pitts says.
The radio plot is also now
heating up with “Thank You” in
rotation at R&B/hip-hop and
adult R&B stations, according to
Atlantic. The next single,
“Wonderful Life,” has been
serviced to R&B formats backed
by a lyrics-only video, and an
audio stream of “International
(Serious)” has been serviced to
digital platforms and music
blogs. Meanwhile, Estelle’s
headlining run of the 19-date
BET All of Me Music Matters tour,
booked by Dennis Ashley at ICM,
wraps March 5 at Philadelphia’s
World Cafe Live. International
shows are scheduled for April/
May, with dates to be
announced.
“You grow as a human being
over a period of three years and
I really, honestly took every
single moment of those three
years to live life and go through
it,” Estelle says. “I’ve fully
embraced who I am. I stopped
fighting with people and just
come to realize, ‘This is me. This
is all of me.'”

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