Estelle Pays Tribute to Missy Elliott for Women’s History Month [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Women have always been a powerful force in music, fashion, arts and beyond. But a trip down history lane showcases how women were not always recognized or treated in the same manor as their male counterparts. However, today it is hard to deny or mask the influence women have in any industry.
With respect to music, female artists such as Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, Beyonce and Estelle continue to break barriers, proving that they can stand tall and hold their own in a male-dominated industry. They even encourage other women to join forces on tracks like Bey’s “Girls (Run the World)” and her Nicki Minaj-assisted “Flawless” remix.
But while they are celebrated with hosts of awards from Grammys to topping lauded lists including Time and Forbes, Women’s History Month is the time to celebrate just how much of a difference these ladies have made.
The Boombox had the chance to speak with singer Estelle, one of the first black British musicians to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for her Kanye West-assisted song “American Boy” in 2009. In honor of Women's History Month, she pays tribute to Missy Elliott, shares some of her go-to girl power tracks and explains the importance of sisterhood in the music business. Get involved in the conversation below.
The Boombox: When you think of women in music, who is one artist that comes to mind when you think of their impact?
Estelle: I would have to say Missy Elliott. I was just reminded of what she did at Super Bowl. You forget how good she was [because she hasn’t performed in a while] and you are like "Man, can I just see a Missy concert?" She was killin’ it. People forget that if it wasn’t for Missy there wouldn’t be a lot of funky, I-am-out-there-and-different, loud artists. Artists wouldn’t be able to come out wearing black face paint, sparkles and no eyebrows, a see-through tracksuit, you know. She did all of that. That is why she is one of the most historical and groundbreaking for me.
What about her music?
The music was really good. It wasn’t one or the other with Missy. It wasn’t like, "Well, you look great but your sound sucks." She wasn’t out their looking crazy and sounding wack. She did it all. She could look insane and sound as brilliant as ever. With some artists now you are kind of like I don’t want to see this, you look good but you don’t sound well or vice versa.
You have songs to uplift women like your new single “Conqueror." What are some of your go-to girl power tracks?
One of my favorites, well, I do have to think about this… Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place” is definitely one of my go-to ones. She is one of my favorites. I also love the Clark Sisters' “You Brought the Sunshine.” It’s such a beautiful record. It lifts me up and just reminds me that not everything sucks today. Then there is just Tina Turner’s whole collection of albums [laughs].
Which one of your songs -- old or new -- is the most empowering for women?
I actually don’t do that with my records [laughs]. I know it’s the weirdest thing in the world. I sing them all the time, but it is always nice when I go into malls and hear records that I haven’t heard in a long time. I was in Nordstrom in Cali around Christmas time and I heard a song from my very first album. I was shocked like, "They have my first album?" It was a song called “On and On” and I just remember every time I hear that song it reminds when of when I was 23 years old and I felt like the whole world is out there and it’s going to be awesome. You might make it today or you may not but just keep going. Now that I am 35, I am like well it all worked out great, I might make it to 40 and I may not.
We knew you had a record in your arsenal. Your music certainly has an uplifting tone.
Yes, now that I think about it would be “On and On.” That record definitely makes you keep fighting.
How important is it for you to have sisterhood in the music business?
It is extremely important. Especially since I have gotten older and I have grown and I have been through the rotation of the industry. I grew up with brothers and sisters so I never had the need to have trillions of friends, but as you start to go through things and you need someone, as I got older the thought of having girlfriends took on a different meaning. Now, I feel like I am at a stage where I call my girlfriends my family. I treat them like my sisters we are in each others lives like we are sisters. It’s almost to a point were its like, "Were you raised together?" But a lot of my friends have been with me from the start like for 10 or 20 years. We don’t do the whole, "Let’s go take pictures on Instagram thing." We are just genuine friends.
For you, it's more about maintaining the purity of your relationships and not necessarily broadcasting everything on social media.
For me, it’s become more like an example thing and I am not being judgy at all. But you go through things, like I have had the instance where people who I don’t know pretend that we are friends and all they really want to do it is take an Instagram post or tweet. Or people want to discuss personal things on social media. If I am on Twitter and you have my number, I am not speaking to you about business on Twitter. It’s just stupid.
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