Ester Dean

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Ester Dean
Dean in 2017
Dean in 2017
Background information
Birth nameEsther Renay Dean
Born (1986-04-15) April 15, 1986 (age 35)[1]
Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • voice actress
Years active2006–present
Associated acts

Esther Renay Dean[2] (born April 15, 1986)[3] is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Dean has also written songs for many artists, with numerous Top 10 hits, including No. 1 hits for Rihanna and Katy Perry, earning the name "The Song Factory". At the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, Dean was nominated for Album of the Year as a producer on Rihanna's album Loud. Outside of music, 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) as Cynthia-Rose Adams, a role she reprised for the sequels, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Pitch Perfect 3 (2017).

Life and career[edit]

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ester Dean is the youngest of five children brought up by their single mother Hester, in a low-income household.[4][5] At a young age Dean learned how to channel her energy into her music, writing and channeling her emotions into songs. Creative writing served as Dean’s self-therapy. [6] The separation made Dean dig deeper for a connection, finding solace in music and the local music scene. Singing in every studio, writing for local rappers and producers, Dean unknowingly grass-rooted herself.[6][7] Learning the ins and outs of her talent and creativity, at 20 years old Dean made a bold move and left Oklahoma with only $500 in her pocket. She drove 18 hours, alone, to Atlanta, Georgia with dreams of breaking into the music industry.[6] She sang for anyone who would listen. While at a Gap Band concert, music producer Tricky Stewart overheard Dean singing in the crowd along with the band.[8] He immediately asked her to set up a meeting. While going through her catalog of songs, Tricky was impressed by not only her voice but also her songwriting ability. He signed her to a small publishing deal that allowed Dean to grow and connect with other known writers and producers.[9] This opportunity provided Dean with the tools, tricks, and skills to writing potential Top 40 songs.

Although her time with Tricky was a significant point in her career, Dean eventually parted ways and relocated to Los Angeles, California.

Upon relocating to Los Angeles, Dean began to build a name in the songwriting world. She was eventually introduced to Polow da Don, and later signed to Zone 4 Records/Interscope Records.[8]

In 2009 Dean released her first single, "Drop It Low", which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming her first US Top 40 single.

Dean's big break came when she collaborated with super producers Stargate, creating her first number one single, Rihanna’s "Rude Boy". She went on to write "What's My Name", "Where Have You Been" and several other Rihanna hits, as well as Katy Perry's "Firework" and Nicki Minaj’s "Super Bass" and co-writing "Pills n Potions" with Nicki Minaj.

In 2011, Dean contributed to the soundtrack for the animated film, Rio by Blue Sky Studios.

In 2012, Dean was named ‘The Song Machine’ in an article by John Seabrook.[8] She has written, and sometimes produced, Top 40 hits for scores of artists, including: Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Florence + The Machine, Beyoncé, Drake, Selena Gomez, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Ciara, The Pussycat Dolls, Usher, Kelly Rowland, R. Kelly, Britney Spears, Lil Wayne, and Eurovision Song Contest 2012 winner Loreen.

After making a great impression in the voice-over world, Dean was asked to audition for a small part in a film about a female A cappella group. She landed the role, Cynthia Rose in the hit movie Pitch Perfect (2012), which led to her co-starring in the sequels Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Pitch Perfect 3 (2017).



Dean possesses a mezzo-soprano range. Her vocals were described by Billboard as "raw, energetic vocals [that] cover a wide range: from club banger to melodic doo-wop/hip-hop."[10] 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 Nicki Minaj when she sings."[11]

Songwriting style[edit]

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.'"[8]



Year Title Role Notes
2011 Rio Boy in Gondola (voice)
2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift Sloth Siren and Gutt's Siren (voice)
Pitch Perfect Cynthia-Rose Adams
2015 Pitch Perfect 2
2017 Pitch Perfect 3
2020 Trolls World Tour Legsly (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
2016 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Vanessa Episode: "That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!"
RuPaul's Drag Race Guest Judge (season 8) Episode: "Bitch Perfect"
2019–2020 Songland Herself
2020 The Voice Episode: "Live Final Top 5 Performances"
2020–present Central Park Hazel (voice) 2 episodes
2021 Clash of the Cover Bands Judge



Year Ceremony Nominated Work Category Result Ref.
2011 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Hot Tottie (as a writer) Award-Winning Urban Songs Won [12]
I Am (as a writer) Won
Rude Boy (as a writer) Won
Sex Therapy (as a writer) Won
2012 Grammy Awards Loud (as a producer and writer) Album of the Year Nominated [13]
BMI Pop Awards Herself Songwriter of the Year Won [14]
Firework (as a writer) Pop Song of the Year Won
Award-Winning Pop Songs Won
Super Bass (as a writer) Won
Rude Boy (as a writer) Won
S&M (as a writer) Won
What's My Name? (as a writer) Won
BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Super Bass (as a writer) Urban Song of the Year Won [15]
Award-Winning Urban Songs Won
What's My Name? (as a writer) Won
2013 BMI Pop Awards Mr. Know It All (as a writer) Award-Winning Pop Songs Won [16]
Turn Me On (as a writer) Won
Where Have You Been (as a writer) Won
MTV Movie Awards Pitch Perfect (shared with the cast) Best Musical Moment Won [17]
Annie Awards Ice Age: Continental Drift (as a producer) Best Music in a Feature Production Nominated [18]
2015 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Dancing in the Dark (as a writer) Best Song – Animated Film Won [19][20]
2016 BMI London Awards Hey Mama (as a writer) Dance Award Won [21]
Award-Winning Pop Songs Won
BMI Pop Awards Award-Winning Pop Songs Won [22]


  1. ^ "Ester Dean Biography, net worth, house, lesbian, relationship, career,. Star". 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Miss Ester Dean on Twitter".
  3. ^ "Ester Dean Interview at The Breakfast Club".
  4. ^ "Ester Dean Talks Debut Album & 'Pitch Perfect' Success". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  5. ^ "Oklahoma Today - SO12 - Melody Maker". Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  6. ^ a b c "Interview: Ester Dean – Singer and Songwriter". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  7. ^ "Ester Dean: Artists To Watch 2010". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  8. ^ a b c d Seabrook, John (2012-03-26). "The Song Machine". The New Yorker. Vol. LXXXVIII no. 6. pp. 48–55. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  9. ^ "Ester Dean Songwriter Interview | Writing Hits for Rihanna, Katy Perry". Songwriter Universe | Songwriting News, Articles & Song Contest. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  10. ^ "Ester Dean: Artists To Watch 2010". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  11. ^ "The Singles Bar: Ester Dean ft. Nicki Minaj, "Gimme Money"". Popdust. 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  12. ^ "Snoop Dog Honored At BMI Urban Awards". Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  13. ^ "ESTER DEAN: Grammy Hisotry". 19 November 2019. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  14. ^ "Ester Dean, Benny Blanco and Pitbull share Songwriter of the Year crown; "Firework" named Song of the Year; Universal Music Publishing Group earns Publisher of the Year". 16 May 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  15. ^ "Ester Dean, Kane Beatz, Nicki Minaj and Pop Wansel also take top honors". 8 September 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  16. ^ "Ester Dean, Benny Blanco and Pitbull share Songwriter of the Year crown; "Firework" named Song of the Year; Universal Music Publishing Group earns Publisher of the Year". 15 May 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  17. ^ "Rebel Wilson and The Avengers dominate ceremony". Daily Telegraph. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on April 19, 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  18. ^ "2013 Annie Awards: Winners List". 3 February 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  19. ^ Feinberg, Scott (November 12, 2015). "Hollywood Music in Media Awards: 'Hunting Ground,' 'Furious 7,' '50 Shades of Grey' Claim Top Prizes". Billboard. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  20. ^ "2015 winners". Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  21. ^ "The hit was written by Giorgio Tuinfort, Afrojack, Sean Douglas, Ester Dean and Alan & John Lomax, and made famous by David Guetta, featuring Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha". 10 October 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  22. ^ "BMI Honors Taylor Swift and Legendary Songwriting Duo Mann & Weil at the 64th Annual BMI Pop Awards". 11 May 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2020.

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