Esthero in 2008
|Birth name||Jenny-Bea Englishman|
December 23, 1978 |
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
|Origin||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
Esthero (// es-STAIR-oh; born on December 23, 1978 in Stratford, Ontario), born Jenny-Bea Englishman, is a Canadian singer-songwriter who currently lives in Los Angeles, California. The name Esthero refers both to the singer and formerly to the two-person team of herself and producer Doc McKinney. Esthero is a portmanteau of "Esther the hero"; she claims to have gotten the name by combining the name of the heroine (Esther) and last line ("If I am to be the hero, then I cannot fly from darkness") of the movie from Sylvia Plath's novel, The Bell Jar.
Esthero's sound characteristically features her voice over a mix of mellow bass lines, jazzy trumpets, Spanish guitar and hip-hop. She is sometimes compared to artists Björk, Portishead, Billie Holiday, and Sade. She has co-produced the majority of the material she performed. Later female artists who count Esthero among their influences include Res, Fergie and fellow Canadian Nelly Furtado.
Esthero's brother, Jason Englishman, is also a musician.
- 1 Career
- 2 Chart history
- 3 Appearances on TV and soundtracks
- 4 Discography
- 5 Collaborations
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
At the age of sixteen, Esthero moved from the small town of Walkerton, Ontario on her own to Toronto, Ontario, where she began singing at open-mic nights while supporting herself by working at various jobs: Future Bakery, the printing house, and telemarketing. She was seen singing at the Free Times Cafe by manager Beau Ovcaric who set up a showcase for his partner Zack Werner. The two managed her on good faith without any legal paperwork until she turned eighteen. They introduced her to EMI Publishing Canada president Michael McCarty, whom she charmed so well during their first meeting that without hearing her sing a single note he set up and paid for recording sessions with Martin "Doc" McKinney, a guitarist and studio engineer whom she had met through a mutual friend.
1997: Breath from Another
The young duo quickly began recording together, and 6 demos in were being courted on the presidency level by almost every major label in the US. Thanks to then EMI publishing US president Rick Krim their demo's reached the ears of the heads of the The WORK Group (a subsidiary of Sony). Their debut album, Breath from Another, was released to critical acclaim in Spring 1998.
1998–2003: Collaborations and success
Following lukewarm sales of her debut, Esthero was dropped from her record label. In 1998, after a remix of one of her songs ("Country Livin'") was used included on the soundtrack for "Slam", Esthero received attention from many hip-hop and rap artists, with many requesting collaborations with her. Some such collaborations were fruitful, such as her work with the Black Eyed Peas on "Weekends", which was an international hit. In 2001, Esthero collaborated with German producer Ian Pooley on "Balmes (A Better Life)", which reached the Top 75 of the UK Singles chart and gave Esthero her first entry on the US Dance charts.
2004–2005: O.G. Bitch and Wikked Lil Grrrls
On April 20, 2004—without Doc's assistance—Esthero released O.G. Bitch, a standalone EP featuring six different remixes of the title track, plus the B-side "I Love You". The song topped the club charts in the US. The following year, she released a second EP, titled We R in Need of a Musical Revolution. The EP spawned a hit of the same name and led the way to Esthero's 2005 full-length album on the Warner Bros. label, the decidedly jazzy Wikked Lil' Grrrls, seven years following her debut album, to mixed critical reaction. The album features contributions from Sean Lennon, André 3000, Shakari Nyte, Jemeni, Jelleestone, and Cee-Lo Green of Goodie Mob. It was chosen as one of Amazon.com's Top 100 Editor's Picks of 2005.
2007–2011: Split from record company and collaborations
In 2007, Esthero amicably parted ways with Venus Management. She continues to have a familial bond with Zack and Beau. Esthero is currently self managed.
2008 was an eventful year for Esthero, with a number of high-profile collaborations including the viral sensation Yes We Can, a song (with accompanying video) inspired by a speech delivered by Barack Obama and produced by will.i.am. Esthero also provided the voice of the spaceship J.A.N.E. on Kanye West's Glow in the Dark tour and appeared on his album 808s & Heartbreak, on which she co-wrote three tracks under her real name. 2008 also saw her take on the role of producer for a track from Dangerous Muse's debut album and a co-writer on Brandy's album "Human". She is featured on hip hop music producer Timbaland's 2009 album Shock Value II on the songs "Can You Feel It" and "Undertow" with band The Fray. The latter enetered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 100, giving Esthero her first and only Hot 100 entry in the US.
2012–present: Everything Is Expensive
On June 5, 2012, Esthero released a new single titled "Never Gonna Let You Go", which was co-written and co-produced with Adam Bravin (She Wants Revenge). The song was featured in the February 21, 2013 episode of Grey's Anatomy, titled "This Is Why We Fight". The song reached number 72 on the Canadian Hot 100, giving Esthero her first entry on the chart.
In 2016, "Breath from Another" was nominated for a Polaris Heritage Prize, for best album from 1996-2005. The album lost, however, to Arcade Fire's "Funeral" (which won the public vote) and Lhasa de Sela's "La Llorona" (which won the jury vote).
On October 30, 2012, Esthero self-released a new album titled Everything Is Expensive. It debuted at number 13 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart in the US. In Canada, the album was released through Universal Music.
Esthero's singles typically perform well in North America. She has had three songs enter the American Dance Club Songs chart ("Balmes", with Ian Pooley; "O.G. Bitch"; and "Fastlane", with Jemeni & Jelleestone); two of the songs reached the Top 5 of the chart and one, "O.G. Bitch", reached number 1. She has also had two entries on the American Dance Singles Sales chart ("O.G. Bitch" and "Fastlane"), both of which reached the Top 10. She has had one chart entry in the UK ("Balmes", which broke the Top 75), and one chart entry in her native Canada ("Never Gonna Let You Go", which reached number 72 on their Hot 100 chart).
Appearances on TV and soundtracks
Esthero has appeared on the Chris Rock Show, Video on Trial, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as well as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Farmclub with The Black Eyed Peas. She has also contributed songs to the films Go, Bounce, Zero Effect, I Think I Love My Wife and Down With Love, as well as the video game 007: Nightfire. Collaborations in which she has participated have appeared in Love & Basketball and Slam.
Her song "Wikked Lil' Grrrls" has also appeared in the film Miss Congeniality 2 and in commercial spots for Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives, on the TV show Boston Legal, Smallville, and also on the TV show Las Vegas and its soundtrack.
- Breath from Another (1998; The WORK Group)
- Wikked Lil' Grrrls (2005; Reprise)
- Everything Is Expensive (2012; Universal Music Canada)
- "Heaven Sent" (CD single, 1998; Sony Records/The WORK Group)
- "That Girl" (promo CD, 1999; Sony Records/The WORK Group)
- "Never Gonna Let You Go" (digital single, 2012; Universal Music Canada)
EPs and samplers
- Short of Breath (promo, 1998; Sony Records/The WORK Group)
- O.G. Bitch (CD EP, 2004; Reprise Records)
- We R in Need of a Musical Revolution (CD EP, 2004 Reprise Records)
- Wikked Lil' Grrrls Samplers (Version 1 & 2) (CD, 2005; Warner Bros. Records)
- Fastlane Remixes (CD, 2005; Warner Bros. Records)
- Zero Effect Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD, 1999) (Song "Lounge")
- Go: Music from the Motion Picture (Soundtrack) (CD 1999; The WORK Group)(Song "Song For Holly")
- I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (track not included on official soundtrack, 1999, "That Girl")
- Boiler Room Motion Picture Soundtrack (track not included on official movie soundtrack, 2000) (Song "Anywayz")
- James Bond 007: Nightfire Video Game Soundtrack (PS2/GC/Xbox, 2002) (Song "Nearly Civilized")
- Taken to the Next Phase (Isley Brothers tribute CD, 2004; Epic Records/Legacy Recordings)
- "Final Home" (vocal edit featuring Esthero) by DJ Krush (from the album Kakusei; original pressings of this album do not contain the vocal edit; this track is also included on the Code 4109 album)
- "Song for Holly" with Danny Saber (for the soundtrack to the movie Go)
- "When I Fall In Love" (featuring Bratticus) by Axus (from Soundtrack for Life; this is a cover of the jazz standard written by Heyman and Young.)
- "Complete Beloved" by The Black Eyed Peas featuring Les Nubians (from Love & Basketball: Music from the Motion Picture; Esthero appears in the background vocals.)
- "The Hero" (featuring Esthero) by j. Englishman (from the album Poor Lil Rockstar; Esthero also appears on demo version of "Don't Mean A Thing")
- "Don't Wanna Be Your Slave" (featuring Esthero) by Michie Mee (from Michie's album The First Cut is the Deepest)
- "Priceless" by Rascalz (from the album Global Warning; Esthero appears only in the background vocals)
- "Weekends" (featuring Esthero) by The Black Eyed Peas (from the album Bridging the Gap; she also appeared in the music video for this song); Esthero is also featuring on a hidden track called "Empire Strikes Black", a remix of their song "BEP Empire"
- "Balmes (A Better Life)" by Ian Pooley (from album Balmes (A Better Life); the original version of this track can be found on Ian Pooley's Since Then album. The vocal edit appears only on special editions of the album.)
- "Tao of Now" (featuring Esthero) by Saul Williams (from the album Amethyst Rock Star)
- "I Feel You" (featuring Esthero) by Nelly Furtado (from Nelly Furtado's Whoa Nelly! (International Version) and from the "I'm Like A Bird" single)
- "The Universal Quest" (featuring Esthero) by Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (from the album Supernova)
- "How Could I?" (featuring Esthero) by John Forté (from the album I, John)
- "Run for Your Life" (featuring Esthero) by Jarvis Church (from the album Shake It Off)
- "Keep The Beat" by Artists For WarChild Canada (from the compilation album Much Dance 2003; Esthero appears alongside and co-wrote the song with other contemporary Canadian artists, including Jarvis Church and Jelleestone)
- "The Streets Where You Live" by The Buried Heart Broject (from the compilation album Women & Songs 6; this was charity single for the Buried Heart Society)
- "White Rabbit" (featuring Esthero) by Blue Man Group (from the album The Complex)
- " Every Day is a Holiday (With You)" (featuring Sean Lennon) by Esthero (from Down With Love: Music from the Motion Picture (2003); the song does not appear in the film but does appear on Esthero's 2005 album Wikkid Lil Grrrls)
- "Heaven" (featuring Esthero) by Sugar Ray (from the album In the Pursuit of Leisure)
- "Coming Down" (featuring Esthero) by The Oddities (from the album Scenic Route)
- "One Life" (featuring Poetic & Esthero) by Last Emperor (from the album Music, Magic, Myth)
- "Life" by Artists For WarChild Canada (from the compilation album Much Dance 2004; Esthero appears alongside Graph Nobel, Jully Black and Keshia Chante)
- "Summertime" (featuring Esthero) by Mos Def (from the album Mos Def Presents Medina Green)
- "Summer Breeze" (featuring Esthero) by Onda (from the compilation cover album The Isley Brothers - Taken to the Next Phase)
- "Another Great Love Gone By" (featuring Esthero) by Vikter Duplaix (from the album Bold & Beautiful)
- "Final Home" (with Esthero) by DJ Krush (from the remix album Stepping Stones: The Self-Remixed Best)
- "Laid Back" (featuring Esthero) by Fonzworth Bentley (from the album C.O.L.O.U.R.S.)
- "Make U Fly" (featuring Esthero) by Zion I and The Grouch (from the album Heroes in the City of Dope)
- "Shine" (with Esthero) by Boney James (from the album Shine)
- "Yes We Can" by Will.i.am featuring Esthero (alongside other musicians, including John Legend and Nick Cannon)
- "Street Lights" (background vocals by Esthero) by Kanye West (from the album 808s & Heartbreak)
- "Undertow" (featuring The Fray & Esthero) and "Can You Feel It" (featuring Esthero & Sebastian) by Timbaland (from the album Shock Value 2)
- "Wavin' Flag" by Young Artists for Haiti, originally written & released by K'naan (Collaborative single release for Haiti earthquake relief; Esthero performed alongside fellow Canadians, includign Avril Lavigne, FeFe Dobson, and Broken Social Scene)
- "Spaceship" (featuring Esthero) by Stat Quo (from the album Statlanta)
- "That Good" (co-written by Esthero under her real name) by Kidz In The Hall (from the album Occasion)
- "Don't Pass Me By" (featuring Esthero) by Spree Wilson (from the album The Never Ending Now)
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
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