Dixon performing in Leeds in 2008.
|Birth name||Alesha Anjanette Dixon|
7 October 1978 |
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England
|Genres||R&B, hip hop, UK garage|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, rapper, model, dancer, television presenter|
Asylum, Atlantic (2007–11)
|Associated acts||Mis-Teeq, Roll Deep, Jay Sean, Ashley Walters|
Alesha Anjanette Dixon (born 7 October 1978) is an English singer, dancer, rapper, model and television presenter. She found fame in the all-female R&B/garage trio Mis-Teeq; however, the trio separated in 2005 and Dixon continued pursuing her music career as a solo artist, signing to Polydor Records. Dixon began recording her debut solo album, Fired Up, in 2006, but due to poor record sales of her first two singles, "Lipstick" and "Knockdown", she was dropped from Polydor.
In 2007 Dixon became a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing and eventually won. Her television exposure led to a successful comeback, which included her signing to Asylum Records, an offshoot of Warner Music Group. Dixon then released a second album, entitled The Alesha Show, in 2008, which received platinum certification from BPI in the UK and spawned four singles including "The Boy Does Nothing" and "Breathe Slow", the latter of which became her highest charting single and earned her a Brit Award nomination.
In September 2009 Dixon became a judge on the seventh series of Strictly Come Dancing, replacing fellow judge Arlene Phillips. The replacement of Phillips by Dixon attracted criticism, as some questioned the extent of Dixon's dancing knowledge. Dixon herself dismissed the criticism, describing it as a "storm in a teacup", and refused to stand down as judge. In 2010 Dixon returned for the eighth series of Strictly Come Dancing and released her third studio album, The Entertainer. In January 2012, shortly after completing the ninth series and her third year as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, Dixon quit to become a judge on Britain's Got Talent.
Early life 
Alesha Anjanette Dixon was born in Welwyn Garden City, to a Jamaican father, Melvin, and English mother, Beverley (née Harris). Alesha Dixon has five half-brothers named Adrian, Mark, John, Jeroame, Callum and one half-sister called Leyanne.
She was educated at Monk's Walk School, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Dixon's mother and father split up when Dixon was four years old and Dixon's father moved away, resulting in Dixon later describing her family life as "very dysfunctional". Between the ages of eight and ten, Dixon witnessed her mother suffer domestic abuse from her partner; she only spoke publicly about the issue 21 years later, in 2010. Dixon created a documentary for the BBC, Don't Hit My Mum, regarding the issue of domestic abuse from a child's perspective, and remarked upon her own childhood: "When I think about that time, I don't remember living in harmony, I don't remember any fun times, I suppose because the negativity has clouded it. The negative times and the scary times have blocked anything that was good [...] I believe that every child has the right to grow up in an environment where they feel secure and fearless going into the world, and I didn't really feel that".
Her first job was at Ladbrokes, although she aspired to become a PE teacher after leaving college. After completing a diploma course in sports studies, she had planned to take up a place at Loughborough University, but whilst at dance classes in London she was approached by a talent scout from a production company. Whilst travelling back home on the train she was approached by another scout who was forming a band and asked if she was interested. Dixon's musical hopes had previously been met with scepticism from her father, as he encouraged Alesha to follow a more academic career path. Dixon explained that "his view was there weren't many black British musicians who were overly successful. I said, 'Dad, I can't base my decision on what people haven't done'". Ignoring his advice, Dixon decided to pursue a career in music.
1999-2005: Mis-Teeq 
Dixon's career began in 1999 when she met Sabrina Washington when they both joined a dance school in Fulham, south west London. Together they decided to form a band when Dixon and Washington, the two co-founders, spotted Su-Elise Nash, a girl auditioning for another band. Dixon and Washington proposed that Nash join the group and together they formed a trio. They were soon signed to Telstar Records with the addition of a new member, Zena McNally, and became the popular UK garage/R&B girl band, Mis-Teeq.
In October 2000, Dixon, then relatively unknown, featured on the single "Rumours" by Damage, which charted modestly at 22 on the UK singles charts. The genre of the track departed from the band's R&B style, in favour of a garage-based sound, however, the tepid reaction from fans insured Damage did not venture further into garage.
In January 2001, Mis-Teeq released their first single, "Why". The track remained commercially unnoticed until a garage remix was produced and the track charted at 8 in April of that year. Two separate music videos for the song were filmed, accompanying the different versions of the song. The song's success coincided with Zena McNally's departure; McNally later alleged that friction between herself and Washington was a factor. Mis-Teeq, continuing as a trio, then released "All I Want", which charted even more successfully at number 2, behind Shaggy's "Angel". In October 2001, they released their debut album Lickin' On Both Sides, featuring hits "One Night Stand", "B with Me" and double A-side single "Roll On/This Is How We Do It". In 2002 Mis-Teeq performed and received a nomination at the BRIT Awards in Earls Court, later in the year band won the MOBO Award for Best Garage Act. After the success of their debut album, 2003 saw Mis-Teeq becoming the faces of JD Sports stores nationwide.
In 2003, Mis-teeq released their second album Eye Candy, which included the singles "Scandalous", "Can't Get It Back" and "Style". In 2004, Mis-Teeq toured the United States and released their debut single Scandalous from their American self-titled debut, a compilation of the albums Lickin' On Both Sides and Eye Candy. They also released "One Night Stand" before coming back to Europe to start work with their third album however, Telstar Records went into administration. The band was left with no choice but to release a Greatest Hits compilation under exclusive licences with Universal Records.
In 2004 Alesha went to feature in the N.E.R.D music video "She Wants To Move". In the video she is shown dancing on a podium while the band circle her. It was also rumoured that she was dating Pharrell Williams around the time of the video. The last song Dixon recorded with Mis-Teeq was "Shoo Shoo Baby" for the Disney film Valiant. In March 2005, their Greatest Hits compilation was released and it was announced that they were separating to pursue solo careers. In June 2005, after a five-year relationship, Dixon married artist Michael Harvey, otherwise known as MC Harvey, of So Solid Crew, in a private ceremony at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire.
2006–08: Fired Up, record label departure and Strictly Come Dancing 
Dixon launched her solo career after Mis-Teeq's break-up and signed a £500,000, three-album deal with Polydor Records. She spent a year writing and recording her solo debut album, Fired Up, working with a wide range of producers including Richard X, Xenomania, Johnny Douglas, Brian Higgins, Estelle and Paul Epworth. During this period Dixon performed mononymously, known simply as "Alesha". In June 2005, she announced her first solo single to be "Superficial". However, at the last minute, the song "Lipstick" was chosen as the first single. "Lipstick" was released on 14 August 2006, and charted at 14 on the UK Single Charts. She released her second single "Knockdown" on 30 October 2006, which charted at 25 on the UK Download Chart. However on the official UK Singles Charts, the single peaked at number 45, falling down to 68 the following week. On 6 November 2006, it was revealed that Dixon had been dropped by her label, Polydor Records. Polydor gave her full rights to her unreleased debut album, Fired Up. Coinciding with her professional troubles was the collapse of her marriage to Harvey; Dixon filed for divorce just over a year after her wedding due to her husband's affair with Javine Hylton. Of her experience she said "my music career and marriage were the most important things. And I lost them within two weeks of each other". However, determined to move on, she said: "When you are knocked down you have two choices – stay down or get back up, stronger."
Dixon took part in series 5 of hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing in 2007, partnered with professional dancer Matthew Cutler. Dixon was at first hesitant to join, fearing that snobbery within the music industry would damage her career. In a later interview she said, "there's always this preconceived idea that people do reality TV shows because they want to kick-start their careers whereas I was actually worried that it would affect it." They had been the favourite from the third week, receiving the most points from the judges on numerous occasions. Dixon herself gained high appraisal from the judges, even being likened to a "young Josephine Baker" by Bruno Tonioli. They received 4.5 million votes in the final, beating actor Matt Di Angelo and professional dancer Flavia Cacace to win the glitter disco ball. However, personal troubles arose once more, as Dixon became estranged from her older brother Mark Harris, after he sold his story of their "terrible" childhood, claiming that they "often went to bed hungry"; he also accused Dixon of turning her back on her family in the pursuit of fame and fortune. Dixon was dubbed the "British Beyoncé" by Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth, Alesha later said "There's only one Beyoncé. When Bruce said that, I got embarrassed. It's very sweet... but it's not true." Dixon is currently the most successful contestant to ever take part in Strictly Come Dancing, with an average point score of 36.5/40, the highest average score from any contestant to ever take part in the show.
|3||Jive/Shake a Tail Feather||36(9,9,9,9)||Safe|
|4||American Smooth/Top Hat, White Tie and Tails||33(8,8,8,9)||Safe|
|6||Salsa/Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'||35(9,8,9,9)||Safe|
|7||Waltz/A Time For Us||38(9,10,9,10)||Safe|
|8||Cha Cha Cha/Crazy in Love||39(9,10,10,10)||Safe|
Samba/Reach Out I'll Be There
Argentine Tango/I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You
|12||Waltz/A Time For Us
Cha Cha Cha/Crazy in Love
Jive/We Love to Boogie
Showdance/Holding out for a Hero
2008–09: The Alesha Show and Strictly Come Dancing judging 
After her victory on Strictly Come Dancing Dixon soon became at the centre of a bidding war between record labels, and even Polydor Records, the label that had dropped her months previously, put in an offer. Dixon, however, chose to sign a four-album contract with Asylum Records in 2008. Dixon's first new album as part of her contract, The Alesha Show was released in the UK on 24 November 2008 and 21 November in Ireland. The official first single from the album, "The Boy Does Nothing" became her first solo top ten hit on the UK Singles Chart, following a 76 spot jump from 84 to 8 on the UK Singles Chart chart on downloads alone. The single eventually peaked at number 5. The song also fared well in continental Europe and is rising on the Australian Singles Chart. The second single from The Alesha Show was "Breathe Slow" and entered the UK Singles Chart at number thirty-nine solely on download sales. The single rose for three weeks before breaking into the top ten at number six, giving Dixon her second top ten hit in the UK from downloads alone, and eventually peaked at number 3 on the Top 40 UK Charts, giving Dixon her second consecutive top 5 single. She also put a song up on her website for free download on 19 October 2008 named "Colours of the Rainbow".
The third single from The Alesha Show, titled "Let's Get Excited" was physically released on 11 May and reached a peak position of 13 in the UK Singles Chart. "Let's Get Excited" became Dixon's first track from The Alesha Show not to chart inside the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The song's presence in the charts boosted album sales and The Alesha Show rebounded at a new peak of 11. The album had received gold certification from BPI, indicating sales of 100,000+ in the UK alone. The fourth single from The Alesha Show, called "To Love Again" was released on 15 November 2009. The track, a ballad penned by Dixon and Gary Barlow, was the first single taken from the deluxe version, entitled The Alesha Show – Encore, released on 23 November. Dixon also embarked upon a 17-date national tour, named The Alesha Show, which began on 20 October 2009 in Nottingham.
It was revealed in July 2009 that Alesha would be joining the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel in September 2009. She replaced Arlene Phillips, which led to the BBC being accused of ageism and sexism by the media, and Dixon herself faced criticism by newspaper columnists such as Amanda Platell and Janet Street-Porter. Dixon, having a conflicting schedule also had to rearrange three dates on her upcoming tour, The Alesha Show in order to do the show, which is broadcast live on Saturday nights. The replacement of Arlene Phillips for Alesha Dixon even became dubbed "Alesha-gate" by some (the "-gate" suffix being a reference to the Watergate Scandal). Dixon's judging debut was met by criticism by some viewers, and 272 complaints were received by the BBC, according to The Guardian. In response to the complaints, television critic Jim Shelley commented that "the lynch-mob was such you'd have thought she had strangled a kitten". Despite the complaints, the BBC stated they were "delighted" with Dixon. Arlene Phillips herself stated in response to the claims that "[The BBC] hired Alesha because they wanted a different opinion – a voice of the viewer – and that's what she does. She was never hired to give a technical viewpoint [...] It is very hard for her – she must be incredibly nervous. The judges had all worked together for six series and she is new and on her own." Fellow judge Bruno Tonioli accused critics of hypocrisy, saying "this time last year people were calling for Arlene to be sacked on the spot for being rude about John Sergeant [...] She was the Wicked Witch of the West, now all of a sudden she is Mother Teresa. What's going on here?" However, despite Dixon's debut causing hundreds of complaints, critics praised some of her later judging as the series progressed, with Richard Simpson of the Daily Mail stating, "it seems Miss Dixon has finally found her voice and is making up for lost time on that point".
2010–11: The Entertainer 
In early 2010, Dixon began work on her third studio album, The Entertainer, which she intended to release during the summer. In May 2010 the Daily Star claimed that Dixon has been working with producer Jim Beanz and that Beanz stated "We're going to build some up-tempo dance songs to take the UK and the US by storm". On 15 March Dixon flew to Denmark to begin recording with Soulshock & Karlin, the producers of Dixon's "Breathe Slow". Dixon's fan site later reported that Dixon had secured a recording session with Rodney Jerkins, a record producer who has produced records for Michael Jackson's final studio album Invincible and most recently produced Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's "Telephone".
On 16 June Dixon revealed on a post on her fansite that the upcoming album is to be called Unleashed, and on 30 June her fansite president revealed the lead single is a track called "Drummer Boy", produced by Haitian-American producer, Shama Joseph, or "ShamRock". On 5 August it was revealed that Dixon had decided to change the album name from Unleashed to The Entertainer. "Drummer Boy", released in August, charted moderately at 15 on the UK Singles Chart. On 16 September it was announced that Dixon had collaborated with Roll Deep and featured in the band's single "Take Control". The track appeared on both Roll Deep's album—Winner Stays On—and The Entertainer. "Radio", billed as The Entertainer's second single, charted poorly upon release in November 2010, failing to reach the Top 40. The single's release coincided with the release of the album, which too made little commercial impact; a year later it was noted that the album had sold 60,000 copies. The album's next single, "Every Little Part of Me", which features guest vocals from Jay Sean, became her lowest performing chart single when released in February 2011, charting at 78. Subsequently, in June 2011 Dixon and her record label Atlantic/Asylum both agreed to part ways, declaring "creative differences" as the reason.
Acknowledging the album's lack of commercial success, Dixon said she would always prefer to "take a chance creatively" than release what she perceived to be stultifying records. She commented: "I knew the single 'Drummer Boy' was a risk. It was a very difficult record and so far removed from anything I'd done before. I get that [...] I take full responsibility for that, but I'm glad I did it. I'd rather make a unique record like 'Drummer Boy' and have it fail than play it safe and release bland, generic music that doesn't excite me."
2012–present: Fourth studio album and Britain's Got Talent 
Dixon wrote and released a new track "Do It Our Way (Play)" for the New Year Weight Watchers campaign, and features in the new adverts of the organisation. The track was released onto iTunes on 1 January 2012, as a digital download. On 2 January, Dixon announced her departure from her judging role on Strictly Come Dancing, to pursue other projects. It was later announced that she left the panel to join the judging panel of Britain's Got Talent along with Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams.
Months earlier, on 21 August 2011, after false reports emerged that Dixon would join The X Factor, another programme of Simon Cowell's and Strictly Come Dancing's ratings rival, Dixon stated in an interview: "I'm not ruling out working with Simon in the future but, at the moment, I am very happy at Strictly and I'm focusing on this year". Alison Boshoff the Daily Mail claimed, upon Dixon receiving her new judging role on Britain's Got Talent, that "Dixon has been pursuing Simon Cowell with almost embarrassing ardour for many months", referencing an interview conducted where Dixon was quoted as saying The X Factor was "more creative" than Strictly Come Dancing and a tweet Dixon had made saying "Off to Syco now for a meeting." Boshoff called it a "a blatant play for a slot on one of Cowell's judging panels." Michael Hogan, of The Daily Telegraph, pointed out that "if rumours are to be believed, Dixon has more than tripled her salary by defecting to the commercial channel", a point made by various other sources; Dixon's manager Malcolm Blair stated that her decision to leave "was never about the money". It has been confirmed that Dixon will resume her role as a judge for the forthcoming series, due to commence in 2013. Dixon received a salary rise of £100,000 to remain on the judging panel for the forthcoming series of Britain's Got Talent.
In September 2012 it was announced that Dixon would be teaming up with So Solid Crew rapper Ashley Walters on his new song "Your Love". The single was released on 11 November. Dixon also confirmed on her official website that she is currently back in the studio recording her 4th studio album saying "Following on from ‘The Entertainer’ released under Asylum/Atlantic Records, I am back in the studio recording my untitled 4th album." The album will be released under a new record label following Alesha's departure from Asylum Records in 2011 and we cannot wait to release exclusive details on who is working on the album with her. Dixon concluded by saying "Keep it locked…"
She returned to Britain's Got Talent on 13 April 2013, alongside fellow judges David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden, in the first auditions episode. This is the same panel as the 2012 sixth series.
Musical style 
When Dixon first emerged into the public spotlight with Mis-Teeq, she was primarily the group's MC, whilst band-mate Sabrina Washington usually sang lead vocals on the records. Washington encouraged her to rap from the band's inception, saying: "When she started she was a bit shy, but I always said that it adds something, an element of difference. It was the first time I'd ever heard a woman MC and I was like, 'Alesha, you have got to do that,' and she was like 'No Bri, don’t make me look stupid'". However, when she began her solo career her first UK album, The Alesha Show, saw Dixon undergo a genre-shift. The album featured no rapping and was primarily R&B and pop, unlike Mis-Teeq's music, which focused mainly on garage and R&B. Dixon commented that the record consisted of "a lot more guitar-written songs with pop produced around it". Upon the release of The Entertainer Dixon stated that she had begun rapping on her records again, saying "I think this album is the one people expected me to do when I left Mis-Teeq, it's a lot tougher and I'm MC-ing again".
Dixon, a songwriter and singer, often writes or co-writes her own records. Discussing the writing process of The Alesha Show she said, "I've written the majority of it and I co-write as well with a lot of people". Critics have suggested some of her songs are autobiographical, such as "To Love Again" (2009), co-written with Gary Barlow and John Shanks. Alison Maloney of The Sun said the ballad was "clearly about finding romance in the wake of her public split from husband Harvey". Barlow stated that Dixon has "a natural musical talent to not only perform but also create", also adding: "she wrote the lyrics really quickly and they seemed very real. I didn't really know she was such a good songwriter". Vocally, reviewer Andy Gill of The Independent suggested that Dixon's vocal strengths lie with more up-tempo songs, saying "the problem is that her bubbly personality (and voice) is simply not as well suited to ballads as to perky dancefloor anthems". However, The Guardian's Caroline Sullivan complemented her live vocals whilst reviewing her tour, The Alesha Show. She said, of her concert tour, that "it was her singing that made the impression: she's more powerful than you would imagine, and when pitted against her band at their most blaring, she more than held her own. While this was going on, she was being flung between two male hoofers, proving, if nothing else, that pop stars who claim they can't dance and sing simultaneously just aren't trying".
Dixon has often cited Madonna as an influence, saying "Madonna is a big idol. I loved her when I was a young girl and I feel like I've been on a musical journey with her". Dixon's single "Let's Get Excited" namechecked the singer and her 1985 single "Into the Groove". Furthermore, the music video featured what Dixon described as "a Madonna tribute" featuring voguing throughout. Additionally, Dixon has described Kylie Minogue as her childhood idol. Growing up, the first record Dixon ever bought was "Push It" by the hip hop group Salt-n-Pepa; she remarked "I didn't understand what they were talking about at the time [...] They were raw and did their own thing, and I loved that. I love artists who don't conform to what people expect of them".
Despite growing up in the predominantly white area of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, Dixon's father Melvin would take her to the Notting Hill Carnival in London to allow her to experience some of her Jamaican heritage. The music she would hear influenced her tastes, as she commented: "all the dancehall records I saved up to buy – Shabba Ranks, Buju Banton – I heard them at Notting Hill". Other major influences come from Lauryn Hill, with Rebecca Hardy of the Daily Mail commenting that after the breakdown of Dixon's marriage, "music, particularly Lauryn Hill's debut Grammy award-winning album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, helped her through her deepest despair". Dixon stated that "her album teaches you how to shed everything you've been programmed to think and start again". When asked during an interview who her favourite songwriter was, Dixon replied: "Lauryn Hill. I love Lauryn Hill because she is not scared to talk about real life. She may say things that are slightly controversial but she gets people thinking and gets people talking". Dixon has also named Neneh Cherry as great influence upon her. Cherry, a mixed race singer, inspired her from an early age, with Dixon saying, "I remember seeing Neneh Cherry on the TV when I was little and turning to my mum and saying, 'Mummy, she looks like me'".
Dixon has described herself and other celebrities as having a "moral responsibility" to do good works, when asked by The Observer's Elizabeth Day. Speaking in August 2010 to Blues & Soul Dixon said: "Being in the entertainment industry I do feel I have a responsibility that comes with my fame".
In 2009 Alesha climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for Comic Relief. Joining her on the climb were Girls Aloud members Cheryl Cole and Kimberley Walsh, Ben Shephard, Ronan Keating, Fearne Cotton, Denise Van Outen, Chris Moyles and Gary Barlow, who had spearheaded the project. Together they raised over £3,500,000 towards helping combat malaria in Tanzania. Upon their return, the entire team met Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street. In June 2009 Dixon became an official ambassador for the charity Help a London Child, stating that she felt "very honoured" to be asked.
Dixon is a patron of the African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) which is a voluntary charity, whose main aim is to increase the number of Black and Mixed Parentage people on the UK Bone Marrow Register. The members of the ACLT freely volunteer their time in attempting to raise awareness in the Black community; enabling potential donors to come forward and be involved in the process of offering hope and a healthy future to someone whose disorder may otherwise prove fatal. Dixon has also backed Nickelodeon's See Something, Say Something campaign, a UK anti-bullying initiative. Alesha said: "Nickelodeon's See Something, Say Something campaign is extremely close to my heart, so I felt compelled to show my support. I was bullied as a child and know how important it is to tell someone about it". Dixon is Vice President of the League Against Cruel Sports, a charity which works to end cruelty to animals in the name of sport and featured in a charity appeal due to concerns that the Hunting Act 2004 could be repealed.
In addition to Dixon's commercial role as a model and representative for the cosmetics company Avon, she has specifically worked with the company in the field of domestic violence. On International Women's Day 2012, Dixon launched the company's Pass It On campaign to highlight domestic abuse issues in the UK by encouraging the purchase of a necklace, described by her as "a symbol of women's empowerment, and infinite possibilities for women". All the proceeds from Avon's necklace campaign were donated to Refuge and Women's Aid.
Other ventures 
Dixon has also presented many well-known shows in the UK, such as the MOBO Awards, CD:UK, ITV2's coverage of The Brit Awards and presented the Live From the Red Carpet show at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards for E!. She has also been a guest on BBC One's current affairs programme This Week on two occasions, in November 2006 and December 2007. In 2009 it was reported that Dixon was in talks with television companies about a possible chatshow. In 2008 and 2009 she co-presented Children in Need alongside Terry Wogan and Tess Daly.
She has also appeared in the CBBC series, 12 Again.
Alesha was a guest presenter on the ITV's breakfast magazine show 'Lorrraine' on friday 17th of May 2013, from 8.30am.
Awards and nominations 
|2006||MOBO Awards||Best UK Female||Herself||Nominated|
|2008||Cosmopolitan Awards||Ultimate Confidence Queen||Won|
|2009||MOBO Awards||Best UK Act||Nominated|
|Best Video||"The Boy Does Nothing"||Nominated|
|UK Music Video Awards||Best Pop Video||Nominated|
|Best Styling in a Video||Nominated|
|2010||BRIT Awards||British Single||"Breathe Slow"||Nominated|
|MOBO Awards||Best Video||"Drummer Boy"||Nominated|
|BT Visit London Awards||Sound of London||Herself||Won|
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Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy
|Strictly Come Dancing Champion
(with partner Matthew Cutler)
Series 5 (2007)
Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup