Fierce, fabulous and following in Beyoncé’s bootylicious footsteps as the poster girl for Emporio Armani Diamonds… The only way is up for pop’s new diva ELLA EYRE
Here’s a strange thing. The more I learn about wild-haired singer Ella Eyre, the more I want to meet her mother.
Don’t get me wrong, London-born Ella, at only 21 years old, is hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof: she’s the fierce new successor to Beyoncé as the Emporio Armani Diamonds fragrance poster girl, and her sumptuous new album Feline has ‘award winning’ written through it like a stick of rock.
There’s no question that Ella is smart, talented and driven. But she owes much of her motivation to her mother Terry, a cake designer who single-handedly steered her only child towards success, remortgaging her home twice in the process.
Ella Eyre, 21, is the fierce new successor to Beyoncé as the Emporio Armani Diamonds fragrance poster girl, and her sumptuous new album Feline has ‘award winning’ written through it like a stick of rock
Lively: Growing up in the West London suburb of Ealing, Ella was such a lively child that her mother signed her up for every activity, including ballet, that would make her more likely to sleep through the night
A teacher at Millfield school, who had noticed Ella's flair for language and acting, suggested she apply for a drama scholarship
Powerful: On stage Ella is a catherine wheel of kinetic energy, sparking off in every direction, her voice a powerful, soulful instrument that takes her audience wherever she chooses to lead it
‘My mum is magnificent,’ declares Ella, a head-turning beauty who was once tipped as a future national swimmer.
‘She has done so much for me without being pushy. She’s been my backbone, given me strength and helped me follow through whatever I set out to do.
'I remember when I was little and painstakingly writing my Christmas cards, I’d ask her how to spell a word and she would simply shrug and say, “Work it out”, so I did. I stopped asking and just got on with it. That’s my philosophy now: I don’t ask for things, I just do them.’
The result has been a level-headed daughter with few airs but many graces that are standing her in good stead as she negotiates the music industry.
Terry, 56, who is from Malta, split up with Ella’s father, a chef from Jamaica, when she was very young.
‘I talk about my mum a lot so she has quite a fan club now, which only adds to my joy,’ says Ella, whipping out her smartphone to show me her mother’s fabulously arty Cake Modern designs, including a saxophone, a Minion and a whale.
‘I went to Glastonbury this year and had a trailer. I asked Mum along and she said she wanted to do it properly, so she camped. She’s hardcore.’ Like mother, like daughter.
On stage Ella is a catherine wheel of kinetic energy, sparking off in every direction, her voice a powerful, soulful instrument that takes her audience wherever she chooses to lead it.
Ella with her singer ex-boyfriend John Newman last summer. The couple remain in touch
Off stage, she is articulate, charming and emotionally intelligent: just the sort of nicely brought up girl to sing England Rugby’s anthem ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’, accompanied by fans.
Proceeds from the single (out 7 September) will go to the charity All Schools, which promotes rugby in the state sector.
‘How wonderful is that?’ cries Ella. ‘I went to shoot the video and the players were lovely guys; respectful, cheeky and funny. It was refreshing to be surrounded by so many boys and not feel intimidated.’
Although just 5ft 5in, she has athletic leanings herself. Growing up in the West London suburb of Ealing, Ella McMahon – she adopted Eyre as a stage moniker from a family name that had been lost in the mists of time – was such a lively child that her mother signed her up for every activity, including ballet, that would make her more likely to sleep through the night.
Then, as a toddler, Terry took her to Jamaica to see her father.
‘My mum was sunbathing and had no idea I’d wandered off,’ recalls Ella. ‘Just when she opened her eyes, she saw me way down the beach holding the hand of an adult who was bringing me back to her – it turned out to be Lennox Lewis!’
Back in Britain, mindful that Ella couldn’t swim, her mother signed her up for lessons and it turned out that she had ability and ‘a hugely competitive nature’.
Soon Ella was on a team and showing great promise.
‘My day was basically wake up at 5am, swim, go to school, do ballet, swim again,’ she says. ‘My mum was there every step of the way. If I had to get up, she would, too. When I complained, she reminded me that this was my goal, my dream and that I owed it to myself to do my very best. She was brilliant.’
Ella went on to win a swimming scholarship to Millfield School, the prestigious independent boarding school in Somerset, well known for its sporting achievements.
‘I adored Millfield,’ says Ella. ‘It was perfect for me and an amazing place where you could fulfil your potential, whatever that was. But it costs over £30,000 a year and, even with a scholarship, it was a huge stretch, so Mum had to remortgage the house twice during the course of my education.’
Unfortunately, Ella proved to be ill-suited to her chosen sport because of constant ear infections, and had to give up aged 13.
But a teacher at the school, who had noticed her flair for language and acting, suggested she apply for a drama scholarship, which she did.
Then, while playing Tallulah in Bugsy Malone aged 14, Ella found her voice.
Ella pictured with her mother Terry at an event last year. Terry is a cake designer who single-handedly steered her only child towards success, remortgaging her home twice in the process
‘I’d always enjoyed showing off but singing was a secondary thing. Then I had a lightbulb moment. Suddenly, I knew what I wanted to do: sing and perform. Although I’d always written down thoughts, emotions and poems, it never occurred to me that I could write my own songs.’
She won a coveted place at the Brit School for performing arts and technology in Croydon, although, she admits, it was a huge wrench to leave Millfield.
Once there, she realised that she wanted to pursue a music career singing her own songs.
‘I spent the last year at school playing about with the idea of what kind of artist I wanted to be. But I hadn’t learnt anything until I played my first live show with Rudimental.’
Rudimental, the multi-platinum Hackney drum and bass band, had heard about Ella on the grapevine.
After she left school they met, wrote and sang together: she featured on their 2013 number-one single ‘Waiting All Night’, which landed a Brit award in 2014.
She then toured with them for seven months.
‘I learned that I wanted to be free to move about on the stage and not be immobile at the mic stand breaking people’s hearts. I want to do that too, but I want people to come away exhausted from singing and dancing.
'I want to feel they’ve had a night out on the town. My music is to dance to and dream to and lose yourself to.’
Ella consolidated her ‘up and coming’ title by singing alongside artists such as Naughty Boy, Tinie Tempah and featuring on DJ Fresh’s ‘Gravity’.
Having signed to Virgin EMI, she released her debut single ‘If I Go’ in 2014, and last year won the Best Newcomer title at the Mobo Awards.
Armani have created a whole campaign around Ella, making her an instant icon
She’s toured solo twice and once with Olly Murs – yet her first album, Feline, is only now being released.
‘I know there will be people thinking, “She’s 21, what can she possibly know about the world, she’s barely lived?”,’ she reflects with a shrug.
‘But my experiences are valid; the album is based around my teenage years, that time when you think everyone is against you and you don’t like the way you look. I’ve been through all the hang-ups about my hair being too big and my legs too short and come out the other side and realised that every body is beautiful in its own way.
‘I live in a world where people judge you from a Facebook picture, and I know now that you shouldn’t give a damn whether people talk about you or not.’
The album is pop with heart, riotous and danceable to, yet with moments of mature stillness and contemplation; the feline of the title is more sleek big cat than meek tabby.
‘My logo is a lion and although the most obvious feline similarity is my mane of hair, I have a few other lion attributes such as loyalty and pride,’ says Ella, who had a relationship with the 25-year-old Yorkshire singer John Newman, which ended by mutual agreement as their careers took off in different directions.
‘It’s taken me this long to write about it because I had never quite understood how I wanted to discuss what happened.
'My song ‘Even If’ is about appreciating something that ended: instead of feeling bad, you can acknowledge whatever it was you did have.’
Style: Ella's lbum is pop with heart, riotous and danceable to, yet with moments of mature stillness and contemplation; the feline of the title is more sleek big cat than meek tabby
Fashion: Although Ella owns an above-average 31 pairs of Nike Air Max trainers, she’s drawn to ‘the finer things, good fabric, excellent tailoring, statement pieces’
Driven: Ella’s success over the past four years has been nothing short of astonishing. She talks of ‘being lucky’ but she’s a hard worker and has made the sacrifices demanded
The two are still in touch. She intimates that he holds a very special place in her heart and perhaps could do so again. But at present she’s single, her schedule packed with places to be and people to meet. What downtime she can claw back, she spends in the gym.
‘I’ve come to terms with my body. I know I’m always going to have to work hard to stay in shape,’ she says.
‘But that’s all right because going to the gym is a release; it’s tough but it’s fun and it clears my head. If I can get up at 5am to have my hair done for a shoot, I can get up at 5am to go to the gym. I wear crop tops now that I wouldn’t have contemplated a couple of years ago, and I’m more experimental.
'I wear catsuits on stage because they are comfortable and sexy. For me, sexy is about dressing to suit my body shape.’
Like any young woman of her age, Ella loves purveyors of edgy high-street fashion such as Urban Outfitters and Topshop. But although she owns an above-average 31 pairs of Nike Air Max trainers, she’s drawn to ‘the finer things, good fabric, excellent tailoring, statement pieces’ – Giuseppe Zanotti heels, Vivienne Westwood accessories.
The relationship with Emporio Armani Diamonds, then, is a perfect fit.
‘Mr Armani personally asked to see me,’ says Ella, suddenly an overawed 21-year-old. ‘They built an idea around me, of a performer on stage throwing her diamond hair comb to her suitor in the crowd – which is incredible. It’s a huge honour. I get to wear the most exquisite clothes.
'A friend sent me a picture of my face on a billboard in Birmingham. How crazy is that?’
Crazy indeed, but then the swift trajectory of Ella’s success over the past four years has been nothing short of astonishing.
She talks of ‘being lucky’ but she’s a hard worker and has made the sacrifices demanded.
‘I’ve learnt to be a bit boring,’ she smiles. ‘I can’t go to loud parties because I shout over the music which is terrible for my voice. I enjoy alcohol but when the shots start it’s game over for me…’
I sense, if not a song per se, then a rumination coming on – overthinking rather than overdrinking is currently her thing.
Ella performing with Rudimental at the Evolution festival in 2013, and winning Best Newcomer at the Mobo Awards 2014
‘My manager made me take a holiday because I wouldn’t stop,’ she beams. ‘So I went to Nice for four days with my hair stylist who is one of my best friends. We ate lobster and did the Insanity workout, and had lovely long sleeps.’
It’s not exactly rock’n’roll, but her mother would definitely approve.
‘Since I moved out she’s had to replace me with two cats, Frank and Edward, who are just like me only fluffier.’
Judging by her fantastical Crystal Tipps dip-dyed curls, I’m not so sure. And as for replacing her? As if. She is Ella, hear her roar.
Ella’s single ‘Good Times’ will be released on Thursday, and album Feline on 28 August. Ella will be touring nationwide in November
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-3193539/Fierce-fabulous-following-Beyonc-s-bootylicious-footsteps-poster-girl-Emporio-Armani-Diamonds-way-pop-s-new-diva-ELLA-EYRE.html#ixzz3jHye6fNh
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