It's already afternoon in the United Kingdom, which means that R&B singer and much-sought-after collaborator Estelle is probably already well into her birthday celebration. The singer turns 31 years old today, and she can eat a slice of cake and smash apart a pinata with the knowledge that her resume already speaks for itself.
Born Estelle Fanta Swaray in London, Estelle grew up listening to a blend of British R&B and American hip-hop — a combination that clearly comes across in her work. She first gained exposure in her home country with her debut album The 18th Day, which contained the early hits "1980" and "Free." Though she picked up a few awards for her work in the U.K., her American breakthrough didn't arrive until 2008, when she hooked up with Kanye West for the single "American Boy." The breezy, catchy song showed off Estelle's groovy vocal chops and her prowess as a songwriter. "American Boy" was not only a chart hit, but it also earned Estelle a Grammy and helped propel her 2008 album Shine to commercial success.
Since her big breakthrough, Estelle has become an incredibly in-demand guest star, dropping in on tracks by Busta Rhymes ("World Go Round"), Robin Thicke ("Rollacoasta"), Gucci Mane ("Grown Man") and Reflection Eternal ("Midnight Hour"). She'll probably be cashing in some of those favors for her forthcoming third album All Of Me, which should be hitting store shelves some time this year. The album's first single "Freak" combines all the elements that make Estelle a hitmaker, from her morphing voice to her ease with melody to her obvious sex appeal.