Born in the U.S. but raised in the U.K., soulful R&B vocalist Celeste Waite channels influences such as Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday to craft languid, jazzy numbers that are elevated by her powerful voice and poetic lyrics. Emerging in the late 2010s, she issued her first official short-player, The Milk & The Honey (2017), before signing with the majors for another EP, Lately (2019), and her full-length debut, Not Your Muse (2021).
Not long after she was born in Los Angeles, the artist who performs simply as Celeste returned to Essex with her British mother. Surrounded by eclectic characters and unique experiences that informed her young life, she was also shaped by the struggles of being biracial in a homogenous town. Eventually, Celeste and her mother moved to Brighton, where daily church attendance helped develop her vocals while singing hymns. In the secular pop sphere, Celeste fell in love with Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, the Supremes, Destiny's Child, and Solange. Her father passed away when she was 16 and, years later when she happened upon his old vinyl collection, she immersed herself in the wealth. Her personal poetry evolved into song and, by the time she was enrolled in college, she made the decision to pursue music.
Away from school, Celeste started jamming with friends, playing soul, funk, and jazz while covering the likes of Sly & the Family Stone, the Clash, the Specials, the Moody Blues, Alice Coltrane, Janis Joplin, Thelonious Monk, Ray Charles, and more. She made her live debut with that eclectic, genre-spanning blend, and things took off from there for the young singer. In 2017, she released "Daydreaming" from the three-track set The Milk & The Honey, which was issued on Lily Allen's Bank Holiday label. Smoky and lush, her songs distilled her varied influences while resembling the style of artists such as Alicia Keys, Adele, Erykah Badu, and Floetry.
Years later, her single "Both Sides of the Moon" -- featuring backing by Gotts Street Park (Kali Uchis, Rejjie Snow) -- landed on her 2019 EP Lately (Both Sides/Polydor). The short set also included the Gotts-backed title track and "Summer" with rapper Jeshi. Early the following year, Celeste released her first charting single, the inspirational "Stop This Flame," and won the BRITs' first Rising Star award. Additional singles continued to build anticipation for her debut album, Not Your Muse, which arrived in January 2021.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo