British singer Estelle on why she can’t let go of her African and Caribbean roots

Francis Akhalbey May 22, 2019
Photo via @estelledarlings on Instagram

Born to a Senegalese mother and Grenadian father, Grammy-Award winning British singer Estelle always speaks avidly about her heritage and parent’s relationship and how it has had an impact in her personal life and music.

According to the American Boy singer, her 2018 Lovers Rock album was influenced by striking similarities she noticed between her love life and her parents, who divorced when she just 3-years-old and later re-married some 20 years later.

“As I started writing, I kept talking about how mind-blowing my parents’ story was to me,” she said about the album.

“I thought about what it meant, what it looks like, and how it relates to me. I’ve always been one-hundred percent real, so I wrote about why I personally couldn’t get the love I wanted. As my mom heard the music, she was like, ‘That’s what me and your dad went through too!’ While I chronicled my life in the lyrics, I subconsciously based it on their lives. My records are my truth and where I’m at any given time. It was one-hundred percent natural.”

In a recent interview with Ebony, the singer revisited the topic and also spoke about her close-knit family, her upbringing as well as her African and Caribbean heritage.

“I was surrounded by African aunties my whole life, just all the women, just all very powerful,” she started before giving credit to her uncles but still acknowledging the women for holding it down during her upbringing.

Despite her parents’ initial divorce, Estelle stressed that her mother always ensured they still experienced both African and Caribbean cultures.

“She helped us merge the cultures,” she said. “She thought us the cultures through food and through music. She was never the person that was like ‘your dad’s West Indian he ain’t here, now you don’t like West Indian people’ because she dealt with that with splitting with my dad and so she kept us all in the culture, so all my life this is all I’ve known…African music right next to Dennis Brown, Nina Simone right next to Guns N’ Roses.

“All the cultures are always merged. It was always about just whatever is good but [I] definitely had a very heavy African side to the upbringing,” she added.

Estelle also touched about why Black culture is being heavily felt in London and how she together with the likes of Idris Elba, Wiley and others are making that happen.

“We’re first generation and closer to our roots than a lot of the rest of the world,” she said. “My parents came to the U.K. in the 1960s and ’70s. … They have been back every year to Africa or the West Indies.”

“There’s just a stronger sense of very strong lineage.”

Watch the full interview below:

Last Edited by:Victor Ativie Updated: May 12, 2020


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