|Born||Muskogee, Oklahoma, United States|
|Genres||R&B, hip hop, pop, dance|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, actress, rapper, record producer, voice actress|
|Associated acts||Stargate, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige|
Ester Renay Dean (born April 15, 1986) is an American songwriter, singer, rapper, and record producer. Her 2009 single "Drop It Low" featured singer Chris Brown. Dean has also co-written songs for many artists including Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Keri Hilson, Beyoncé, Priyanka Chopra, Mary J. Blige, Nicki Minaj, Kelly Clarkson, Ciara, The Pussycat Dolls, Usher, Kelly Rowland, Girlicious, Rihanna, R. Kelly, Britney Spears, Melody Thornton, Vanessa White, Selena Gomez, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, Pia Toscano, Tinie Tempah, Lil Wayne, Machine Gun Kelly and Eurovision Song Contest 2012 winner Loreen.
In 2011, Dean contributed to the soundtrack for the animated film, Rio by Blue Sky Studios. In 2012, she voiced two of the characters in the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also wrote a song for the movie, entitled "We Are (Family)". Dean made her acting debut in the film Pitch Perfect (2012) and performs on the soundtrack as well.
1986–2010: Early life and career beginnings
Ester Dean was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on April 15, 1986, but lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then in her late teens, she moved to Omaha, Nebraska. After graduating from Omaha North High School in 2001, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, until relocating to Los Angeles, California. In an interview Dean spoke on her family life,
Oh, my whole family can sing. When I was growing up, I said I was going to be a chef. And my cousin was like, “No you aren't. You're going to sing.” And I'm like, “No, I'm not. I'm going to be a chef. And that's it.” And they're like, “No, you're going to sing.” And I said, “Okay, well I'll sing and get the money and set-up a restaurant.” My mom, she used to do gospel plays. And we used to go on the road with her and perform in the choir, so I grew up watching her star in these gospel plays. And it just showed, like, “Oh my God, I want to do this or do something like this.” I noticed how I started to get jealous when they used to pick other little girls to sing certain parts. And I'd be like, “Well, I can sing that better.” Or we'd be in their studio and I'm like, “I want to sing in a studio.” When I was really young, that childhood jealousy and seeing what I really wanted – I used to sing into anything I could hear myself back on. That's what I'd do. Even if it was karaoke, I just wanted to be heard, you know? I believe my mom wanted me to be a star and an artist. I think it trickles down. Sometimes it takes them to want it for you to do it.
When Dean relocated to Los Angeles, California, she became a successful songwriter, and was introduced to Polow da Don, and later signed to Zone 4 Records/Interscope Records. During her tenure, Dean has amassed a catalog of songs she has written or co-written for other artists, such as Britney Spears, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Vanessa White, Priyanka Chopra, Monica, Keri Hilson, Keyshia Cole, Kelly Rowland, Girlicious, Katy Perry, Trey Songz, Kelly Clarkson, Ciara, Usher, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Pia Toscano, Selena Gomez, Melody Thornton, Ginuwine, Teyana Taylor, Scotty McCreery, Beyoncé Knowles, and Mary J. Blige, among others.
Dean recorded and released her first single, "Drop It Low" which features singer Chris Brown, from the LeBron James documentary, More Than a Game (2009), which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming her first US Top 40 single. The song received positive reviews, and the song was remixed by artists such as Lil Wayne, Trey Songz and Diddy. Dean has co-written songs featured on the Step Up 3D Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2010) and Burlesque: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2010).
Throughout 2011, Dean carried on songwriting. While working on her album, she co-wrote "Super Bass", for Nicki Minaj's debut album Pink Friday (2010). The song has gone on to achieve the position of number three on the Hot 100. "Super Bass" is included as part of the title of a UK Deluxe edition of Minaj's album, Pink Friday (Super Bass Edition). Dean has an appearance on Rio: Music From The Motion Picture (2011) with "Let Me Take You To Rio". Dean is a co-writer and is featured on the song "Invincible", the second single from American rapper Machine Gun Kelly's debut album Lace Up (2012). The song has been used in a HTC ReZound ad and also served as one of several theme songs for WrestleMania XXVIII.
Dean made an appearance in Ice Age: Continental Drift. "I'm just excited," she says of playing her character, the Sloth Siren. "On August 23, I go put my voice down. And my character gets to sing." Dean is one of many musicians in the Ice Age: Continental Drift cast. Drake, Nicki Minaj, Queen Latifah and Jennifer Lopez are lending their voices to the film.
Dean's song "Drop It Low" appears on The Bling Ring: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2013).
Dean's vocals were described by Billboard.com as "raw, energetic vocals cover a wide range: from club banger to melodic doo-wop/hip-hop." Dean's vocals have also been described as similar to Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. "The songwriter’s voice is pitched dead center between two artists. The first is frequent collaborator Rihanna, the other is the singing voice of Nicki Minaj.
In a 2012 article in The New Yorker, Dean described her preferred method of songwriting: "I go into the booth and I scream and I sing and I yell, and sometimes it's words but most time [sic] it's not...and I just see when I get this little chill [on her upper arm, below the shoulder] and then I'm, like, 'Yeah, that's the hook.'"
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US||US R&B||US Pop|
|"Drop It Low"
(featuring Chris Brown)
|2009||38||33||32||More Than a Game OST|
|"Get My Dough"||2014||—||—||—||TBA|
|"Twerk'n 4 Birk'n"||—||—||—|
As featured artist
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|US||US R&B||US Pop||IRE
(Tinie Tempah featuring Ester Dean)
(MGK featuring Ester Dean)
|"We've Only Just Begun"
(Michael Woods featuring Ester Dean)
|2009||"I Think I Love Her"||The State vs. Radric Davis||Gucci Mane|
|"Birthday Sex (Remix)"||Jeremih||Jeremih|
|"I Love U"||Graffiti||Chris Brown|
|2010||"P**** Fight" (Uncredited vocals)||Non-album track||Game feat. Ray J|
|"Grammy"||The DeAndre Way||Soulja Boy|
|"Shakin' It For Daddy"||Sex Therapy||Robin Thicke feat. Nicki Minaj|
|"I Know You Got a Man"||Battle of the Sexes||Ludacris|
|"Super Bass"||Pink Friday||Nicki Minaj|
|"Love Suicide"||Disc-Overy||Tinie Tempah|
|2012||"In My City"||single||Priyanka Chopra|
|"We Are (Family)"||Ice Age: Continental Drift (plays during credits only)||Various|
|2013||"Wide Open"||Underground Luxury||B.o.B|
|2009||"Drop It Low"||Joseph Kahn|
|2011||Rio||Boy in Gondola||Voice cameo|
|2012||The Lorax||Soundtrack - "Let It Grow (Celebrate The World)"||performed in credits|
|Ice Age: Continental Drift||Sloth Siren||Voice|
|Pitch Perfect||Cynthia Rose||Acting debut|
|2015||Pitch Perfect 2||Cynthia Rose|
- "Age of Ester Dean". Smarty9108. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
- Clayton Perry (26 October 2009). "Interview: Ester Dean - Singer and Songwriter". blogcritics.org. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Interview: Ester Dean – Singer and Songwriter (2009-10-26). "Interview: Ester Dean – Singer and Songwriter". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- Gary Trust (15 June 2011). "Adele 'Rolling' Along Atop Hot 100, Jason Aldean & Nicki Minaj Reach Top 10". billboard.com. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Nicki Minaj - Super Bass - Billboard.com". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
- "Pink Friday (Super Bass Edition) - Amazon.com". amazon.co.uk. Amazon.com. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Erica Thompson (19 August 2011). "Ester Dean Talks 'Ice Age 4,' New Album and Missy Elliott". billboard.com. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "The Bling Ring: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [Explicit] [+digital booklet]: Various artists: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- "Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- "Ester Dean: Artists To Watch 2010". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- Asaph, Katherine St (2012-02-23). "The Singles Bar: Ester Dean ft. Nicki Minaj, "Gimme Money"". Popdust. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
- Seabrook, John (26 March 2012). "The Song Machine". The New Yorker. LXXXVIII (6): 48–55.
- "Irish Singles Chart (November 3, 2011)". Chart-Track. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Video: MGK f/ Ester Dean – ‘Invincible’". Rap-Up.com. Retrieved 2014-05-19.