Essex, England-born Anne-Marie Nicholson was no stranger to performing by the time her debut EP dropped in 2015, having shared the stage as a 12-year-old with none other than Jessie J in a West End production of Whistle Down the Wind. She also auditioned for Les Misérables without telling her parents, and was offered a part. It was a risk that paid off, as it served to open her parents’ eyes to her singing ability. Aside from West End commitments, the intervening years between her days as a child star and the advent of her career as a pop singer were spent becoming a world karate champion no fewer than three times, an art form she credited with teaching her discipline and focus, two essential traits of becoming a successful musician.
After a chance meeting with an aspiring singer/songwriter, she managed to secure some studio time in Elton John’s Rocket Studios, and, after hearing what she could do, she was subsequently picked up by Elton’s management company Rocket Music. Anne-Marie released a demo in 2013 entitled Summer Girl, which drew some attention to the singer, most notably garnering a fan in Ed Sheeran. Despite the encouraging start to her solo career, things were put on hold to give her more time to develop as an artist.
Having guested on tracks by dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man, London-based garage duo Gorgon City, and progressive house trio Raized by Wolves, Anne-Marie caught the attention of Brit and MOBO award winners Rudimental. She was featured alongside Dizzee Rascal and Will Heard on two tracks from their second album, 2015’s We the Generation, and spent two years touring with the band, playing some of the world’s biggest stages and best-known festivals.
The summer of that year also saw the release of Anne-Marie’s debut EP on Rudimental’s then-new record label, Major Tom’s. The aptly titled Karate EP featured three tracks and a Chloe Martini remix, and producers Josh Record and Two Inch Punch worked with her on the record. Both the lead single “Karate,” a slick fusion of electro-grime and R&B, and the follow-up “Gemini,” garnered some very positive reviews and led Anne-Marie to gigging as a solo artist. In early 2016, the single “Do It Right” reached the U.K. charts, and several months later “Alarm” hit the Top 40 in several charts around the world.
In 2017, Anne-Marie scored a hit single when she featured on Clean Bandit’s multi-platinum “Rockabye” with Sean Paul. The song topped the charts across Europe and in Australia, breaking into the Top Ten in Canada and the U.S. She followed with the solo singles “Ciao Adios” and “Heavy,” which both charted in the U.K. and Ireland. ~ Simon Spreyer