"But she probably suspected that my sisters and I were sneaking out to gigs, so she wasn't really that strict.

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Switching effortlessly between her sly raps and more conventional singing, she is a witty lyricist who still manages to put a distinctly British stamp on her American beats.

"I didn't want a record that sounded just like Will I Am or Wyclef," she says. Wyclef was quite surprised when I turned up for a session with a song completely arranged. He found himself taking orders from me." Legend's LA dining partner Kanye West also makes a typically slick cameo appearance on Shine, lending a trademark rap to American Boy.

With Legend an encouraging mentor, Estelle also found herself fast-tracked to the heart of Stateside R&B, with a host of A-List collaborators on hand.

While the likes of Will I Am (of The Black Eyed Peas), Mark Ronson, BeyoncÈ producer Swizz Beatz and former Fugees man Wyclef Jean all make sterling contributions to Shine, however, Estelle comfortably holds her own alongside the cream of American music.

Instead, spiritual music—particularly American gospel—and traditional African music were what Estelle grew up listening to.

However, she would sometimes listen to hip hop when not at home.

I had three years away from all of this, and that served as a real wake-up call.

Estelle Fanta Swaray (born 18 January 1980), simply known as Estelle, is a British singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress from West London, England.

Estelle has released several critically acclaimed records and received a Grammy Award among other accolades.