Birth name Alesha Anjanette Dixon
Born 7 October 1978 (age 33)
Welwyn Garden City,Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Genres R&B, hip hop, UK garage
Occupations Singer, songwriter, model,rapper, dancer, television presenter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1999–present
Labels Polydor Records (2005–2006)
Asylum Records (2008–2011)
Atlantic Records (2008–2011)
Associated acts Mis-Teeq
Roll Deep
Jay Sean
Website aleshadixon.com

 

Early life

Alesha Anjanette Dixon was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, on 7 October 1978, to an English mother, Beverly Harris, and Jamaican father, Melvin Dixon; she is mixed race. Dixon has five half-brothers named Adrian, Mark, John, Jeroame, Callum and one half-sister called Leyanne. She was educated at Monk’s Walk School, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Dixon’s mother and father split up when Dixon was four years old and Dixon’s father moved away, resulting in Dixon later describing her family life as “very dysfunctional”. Between the ages of eight and ten, Dixon witnessed her mother suffer domestic abuse from her partner; she only spoke publicly about the issue 21 years later, in 2010. Dixon created a documentary for the BBC,Don’t Hit My Mum, regarding the issue of domestic abuse from a child’s perspective, and remarked upon her own childhood: “When I think about that time, I don’t remember living in harmony, I don’t remember any fun times, I suppose because the negativity has clouded it. The negative times and the scary times have blocked anything that was good […] I believe that every child has the right to grow up in an environment where they feel secure and fearless going into the world, and I didn’t really feel that”.

Her first job was at Ladbrokes, although she aspired to become a PE teacher after leaving college. After completing a diploma course in sports studies, she had planned to take up a place at Loughborough University,but whilst at dance classes in London she was approached by a talent scout from a production company. Whilst travelling back home on the train she was approached by another scout who was forming a band and asked if she was interested.Dixon’s musical hopes had previously been met with scepticism from Melvin Dixon, as he encouraged Alesha to follow a more academic career path. Dixon explained that “his view was there weren’t many black British musicians who were overly successful. I said, ‘Dad, I can’t base my decision on what people haven’t done'”.Ignoring her father’s advice, Dixon decided to pursue a career in music.

History

1999-05: Mis-Teeq

Dixon’s career began in 1999 when she met Sabrina Washington when they both joined a dance school in Fulham, south west London. Together they decided to form a band when Dixon and Washington, the two co-founders, spotted Su-Elise Nash, a girl auditioning for another band.Dixon and Washington proposed that Nash join the group and together they formed a trio. They were soon signed to Telstar Records with the addition of a new member, Zena McNally, and became the popular UK garage/R&B girl band, Mis-Teeq.

After months of recording throughout 1999 and early 2000, Mis-Teeq released their debut single “Why?” in January 2001, however, it was not long before McNally left the band. The band made a decision to remain a trio. In October 2001, they released their debut album Lickin’ On Both Sides, featuring hits “All I Want”, “One Night Stand”, “B with Me” and double A-side single “Roll On/This Is How We Do It”. In 2002 Mis-Teeq performed and received a nomination at the BRIT Awards in Earls Court, later in the year band won the MOBO Award for Best Garage Act.After the success of their debut album, 2003 saw Mis-Teeq becoming the faces of JD Sports stores nationwide.

In 2003, Mis-teeq released their second album Eye Candy, which included the singles “Scandalous”, “Can’t Get It Back” and “Style”. In 2004, Mis-Teeq toured the United States and released their debut single Scandalous from their American self-titled debut, a compilation of the albums Lickin’ On Both Sides and Eye Candy. They also released “One Night Stand” before coming back to Europe to start work with their third album however, Telstar Records went into administration. The band was left with no choice but to release a Greatest Hits compilation under exclusive licences with Universal Records.

The last song Dixon recorded with Mis-Teeq was “Shoo Shoo Baby” for the Disney film Valiant. In March 2005, their Greatest Hits compilation was released and it was announced that they were separating to pursue solo careers.

2006-08: Fired Up and record label departure

I never lost the desire to [want to] carry on in music – that’s all I know, all I’ve ever dreamed of doing, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do so, I think, never give up.

Alesha Dixon, discussing her thoughts on being dropped by her record label, Polydor.

Dixon launched her solo career after Mis-Teeq’s breakup and signed a £500,000, three-album deal with Polydor Records. She spent a year writing and recording her solo debut album, Fired Up, working with a wide range of producers includingRichard X, Xenomania, Johnny Douglas, Brian Higgins, Estelle and Paul Epworth. During this period Dixon performedmononymously, known simply as “Alesha”.

In June 2005, she announced her first solo single to be “Superficial”. However, at the last minute, the song “Lipstick” was chosen as the first single. “Lipstick” was released on 14 August 2006, and charted at 14 on the UK Single Charts. She released her second single “Knockdown” on 30 October 2006, which charted at 25 on the UK Download Chart. However on the official UK Singles Charts, the single peaked at number 45, falling down to 68 the following week.

On 6 November 2006, it was revealed that Dixon had been dropped by her label, Polydor Records. Polydor gave her full rights to her unreleased debut album,Fired Up. Her first single from the album, “Lipstick”, got to number 1 in Japan’s international ringtone chart and number 2 in MTV Japan’s hit list. Fired Up was officially released in Japan on 20 February 2008.

2008-09: The Alesha Show

Dixon performing at the Christmas lights switch on in Leeds 6 November 2008.

After her victory on Strictly Come Dancing Dixon soon became at the centre of a bidding war between record labels, and evenPolydor Records, the label that had dropped her months previously, put in an offer.Dixon, however, chose to sign a four-album contract with Asylum Records in 2008.Dixon’s first new album as part of her contract, The Alesha Show was released in the UK on 24 November 2008 and 21 November in Ireland. The official first single from the album, “The Boy Does Nothing” became her first solo top ten hit on the UK Singles Chart, following a 76 spot jump from 84 to 8 on the UK Singles Chart chart on downloads alone. The single eventually peaked at number 5. The song also fared well in continental Europe and is rising on the Australian Singles Chart. The second single from The Alesha Show was “Breathe Slow” and entered the UK Singles Chart at number thirty-nine solely on download sales. The single rose for three weeks before breaking into the top ten at number six, giving Dixon her second top ten hit in the UK from downloads alone, and eventually peaked at number 3 on the Top 40 UK Charts, giving Dixon her second consecutive top 5 single. She also put a song up on her website for free download on 19 October 2008 named “Colours of the Rainbow”.

The third single from The Alesha Show, titled “Let’s Get Excited” was physically released on 11 May and reached a peak position of 13 in the UK Singles Chart. “Let’s Get Excited” became Dixon’s first track from The Alesha Show not to chart inside the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The song’s presence in the charts boosted album sales and The Alesha Show rebounded at a new peak of 11. On 9 June it was announced on Dixon’s official website that the album had received platinum certification from BPI, indicating sales of 300,000+ in the UK alone.

The fourth single from The Alesha Show, called “To Love Again” was released on 15 November 2009. The track, a ballad penned by Dixon and Gary Barlow, was the first single taken from the deluxe version, entitled The Alesha Show – Encore, released on 23 November. Dixon also embarked upon a 17-date national tour, named The Alesha Show, which began on 20 October 2009 in Nottingham.

2010-11: The Entertainer

In early 2010, Dixon began work on her third studio album, The Entertainer, which she intended to release during the summer. In May 2010 the Daily Star claimed that Dixon has been working with producer Jim Beanz and that Beanz stated “We’re going to build some up-tempo dance songs to take the UK and the US by storm”. She hopes to release the album in the US. Dixon’s fansite also stated that Dixon had confirmed that she would once again be creating music withXenomania, the producers who created “The Boy Does Nothing”. On 15 March Dixon flew to Denmark to begin recording with Soulshock & Karlin, the producers of Dixon’s “Breathe Slow”. Dixon’s fan site later reported that Dixon had secured a recording session with Rodney Jerkins, a record producer who has produced records for Michael Jackson’s final studio album Invincible and most recently produced Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone”.

Dixon herself later confirmed via a diary update not on her official site but her fansite that she had recorded 2 tracks with Soulshock & Karlin and also revealed she had just finished recording a new track named “Bionic”. Dixon described “Bionic” as “a powerful, fun, quirky song all about being strong when life tests you”.On 16 June Dixon revealed on a post on her fansite that the upcoming album is to be called Unleashed, and on 30 June her fansite president revealed the lead single is a track called “Drummer Boy”, produced by Haitian-American producer, Shama Joseph p/k/a “Sham” or “ShamRock”. Dixon has also announced that she has worked with Busbee, who wrote Alexandra Burke’s “Bad Boys”, on new tracks for her album, and has also announced that she and Gary Barlow have “become good friends” and he is to write for her new album. On 5 August it was revealed that Dixon had decided to change the album name from Unleashed toThe Entertainer. On 16 September it was announced that Dixon has collaborated with Roll Deep, and features the band’s forthcoming single “Take Control”.The second single from the album is “Radio”. The third single was confirmed to be “Every Little Part of Me”, which features guest vocals from Jay Sean. Other album cuts include “La La La” and “Cool with Me,” which were written in part or full by another “Bad Boys” writer, Alex James.

Upon the release of The Entertainer, the album charted poorly only peaking at number eighty-four on the UK Albums Chart. The second single released with the album also charted lowly, only peaking at number forty-six on the UK Singles Chart. Subsequently, Alesha and her record label Atlantic/Asylum parted ways. Dixon was critised by viewers and fans of Strictly Come Dancing when she appeared drunk on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man and revelead intimate details of the contestants in December 2011.

Other projects

Dixon performing in 2009.

In January 2008, less than a month after her profile was raised due to her victory on Strictly Come Dancing, Dixon signed a deal with Ford to endorse the new Ford Focus, an ad campaign featuring her was made, and a track called ‘4 U I Will’ was recorded using real car parts. Dixon said, “When Ford first showed me the original TV ad and the incredible instruments I immediately wanted to get involved.” Some of the instruments being used were the ‘door harp’, the ‘clutch guitar’ and the ‘hatchback kick drum’, in total 21 parts were taken from the car and transformed into unique looking instruments. In February 2008 Dixon fronted a campaign for the Department of Health, promoting safe sex.The sum of money she received was never disclosed despite calls to have the sum made public. Later in 2008 Alesha became the face of a new Veet campaign.

In May 2009, Dixon collaborated with clothing label Dune, selling limited edition necklaces, with all the profits being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. John Eagen, Dune’s CEO stated that “they are delighted to have Alesha support this cause”. The necklace, which consists of three layers of gold, pewter and silver balls, was launched by Dixon to help raise awareness for the charity.In June 2009, Dixon fronted a new campaign for Tobleronechocolate, offering fans a free download of an exclusive new track called “Before the Sun Goes Down”.Fans were also able to enter a competition to win a pair of VIP tickets to see Dixon in concert and meet her. Jane Furze, Toblerone Marketing Manager said in a statement, “We’re delighted to have Alesha on board – she’s a great personality and the perfect fit with the brand”.In November 2009, it was announced that Dixon had signed a signed a four-year profit sharing deal with LA Fitness, to become brand ambassador for the gym chain as part of their multi-million pound re-launch scheme. Dixon’s contract was described as “unique” by LA Fitness, as Dixon is not only endorsing the gym chain, but taking on an advisory role. The pay Dixon receives is in direct correlation to the gym’s success over the term of the deal, meaning Dixon could earn up to £3 million in bonuses, considerably higher than the flat-fee that endorsers usually receive.

When asked by The Observer in 2010 whether celebrities have a responsibility to do good works, Dixon replied: “Absolutely. There are so many things you could reel off as negatives – your private life is exposed, every move is scrutinised – at the same time, you can think: ‘Wow, I’m in a position to shine a light into these areas.’ That’s a powerful tool because, actually, it’s quite a selfish job. It’s a moral responsibility, I guess, I think I have.” In 2009 Alesha climbed Mt Kilimanjaroin Tanzania for Comic Relief. Joining her on the climb were Girls Aloud members Cheryl Cole and Kimberley Walsh, Ben Shephard, Gary Barlow, Ronan Keating,Fearne Cotton, Denise Van Outen, and Chris Moyles. Together they raised over £3,500,000 towards helping combat malaria in Tanzania. The whole team met Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street. Dixon had previously been to Downing Street just months before the climb to meet with Sarah Brown in honour of theCosmopolitan ultimate women of the year awards.While discussing the malaria issue in Tanzania, Dixon said,

“I think people in England take things for granted, we complain about our NHS system and yes it’s not perfect but believe me it’s far better than what they’ve got there.”

Dixon backed Nickelodeon’s ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign which is the UK’s anti-bullying initiative. The campaign aims to encourage children to speak out against bullies and help children gain the confidence to tell someone if they, or someone they know is being bullied. As the face of the campaign Alesha said: “Nickelodeon’s See Something, Say Something campaign is extremely close to my heart, so I felt compelled to show my support. I was bullied as a child and know how important it is to tell someone about it”. Dixon is also a patron of the African-Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT), which is a voluntary charity, whose main aim is to increase the number of Black and Mixed Parentage people on the UK Bone Marrow Register. The members of the ACLT freely volunteer their time in attempting to raise awareness in the Black community; enabling potential donors to come forward and be involved in the process of offering hope and a healthy future to someone whose disorder may otherwise prove fatal. In June 2009 Dixon was asked to become an official ambassador for the charity, ‘Help a London Child’. In a statement Dixon said “I am very honoured that Help a London Child have asked me to be an ambassador and I have accepted. I have supported the charity for some time now and it makes sense to make my involvement more official. I am looking forward to continuing my support and I have already volunteered to run the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon to help raise funds for the charity!” Help a London Child Manager Kate Crabtree said, “This is fantastic news for Help a London Child and we are absolutely delighted. Alesha’s thoughtfulness and compassion make her the perfect ambassador and we look forward to her continued invaluable support.”

Speaking in August 2010 to noted UK urban writer Pete Lewis – Assistant Editor of Blues & Soul – about her all-round positive attitude towards her philanthropic work, Dixon said: “Being in the entertainment industry I do feel I have a responsibility that comes with my fame. And, while some celebrities may spend their time moaning about the negative things that come along with being famous, my thing is, if you are in the limelight then why not try to find positive things that come with it? And for me the most positive thing is shedding light on subjects that matter but don’t normally get a look-in!”

In May 2011, it has been rumoured that Dixon may possibly replace Cheryl Cole on the upcoming season of the British X Factor. However she turned down the role due to her commitment to Strictly Come Dancing. In July 2011, Alesha Dixon was announced as associate producer for short film ‘Victims’ about domestic violence and its consequences, which has been nominated for the Film London Best of Borough Film Awards and is now online.

Alesha is a supporter of the League Against Cruel Sports, a charity which works to end cruelty to animals in the name of sport.

On 24th July 2011, Alesha appeared at The Barn Theatre, Welwyn Garden City with actor, Elliot Brown for the The Barn Theatre presents… to raise money for the Theatre’s Studio Project to build a new studio theatre for its youth groups.

Modelling and television career

As a model, Dixon is represented by Select Model Management and has appeared on the cover of CosmopolitanFHMArenaCompanyBliss and other magazines and in various other editorial fashion shoots. In 2008 a poll showed that Dixon had “Britain’s sexiest legs” beating Alexandra Burke, Naomi Campbell,Tiana Benjamin, Lily Cole and others. Dixon was cast as the lead female in the music video for “She Wants to Move” by N.E.R.D. Dixon has been featured inFHM’s annual 100 sexiest women in the world poll on a number of occasions. She is managed by Malcolm Blair.

Dixon has also presented many well-known shows in the UK, such as the MOBO AwardsCD:UK, ITV2’s coverage of The Brit Awards and presented the Live From the Red Carpet show at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards for E!. She has also been a guest on BBC One’s current affairs programme This Week on two occasions, in November 2006 and December 2007. In 2009 it was reported that Dixon was in talks with television companies about a possible chatshow. In 2009 she co-presented Children in Need alongside Terry Wogan and Tess Daly, she also presented 2008’s coverage from BT Tower. She returned to present the telethon in 2011 alongside Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly and Terry Wogan.

In March 2010, she presented the Mister World 2010 pageant, which took place in Incheon, Korea.

Dixon took part in series 5 of hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing in 2007, partnered with professional dancer Matthew Cutler. Dixon was at first hesitant to join, fearing that snobbery within the music industry would damage her career. In a later interview she said, “There’s always this preconceived idea that people do reality TV shows because they want to kick-start their careers whereas I was actually worried that it would affect it.” They had been the favourite from the third week, receiving the most points from the judges on numerous occasions. Dixon herself gained high appraisal from the judges, even being likened to a “young Josephine Baker” by Bruno Tonioli.They received 4.5 million votes in the final, beating actor Matt Di Angelo and professional dancer Flavia Cacace to win the glitter disco ball.

Dixon was dubbed the “British Beyoncé” by Strictly Come Dancing host Bruce Forsyth, Alesha later said “There’s only one Beyoncé. When Bruce said that, I got embarrassed. It’s very sweet… but it’s not true.” Mis-Teeq were often cited as the British equivalent to Destiny’s Child; the trio that first gave Beyoncé media attention