Born Louisa Gabrielle Bobb in Hackney South London, this notable British songstress launched her music career back in 1993 with the infectious UK number one single Dreams. The track, taken from her debut album Find Your Way, spent three weeks on the top of the charts and the production was originally based on a sample from Tracy Chapman’s classic Fast Car.
At the time, the song was the highest ever UK chart entry scored by a debut artist.
Aside from the fact she had a distinct voice and the song relayed such an accessible message, the main thing that stood out about Gabrielle, when she first came out, was she wore an eye-patch. In the video for Dreams most people thought this was merely a fashion accessory, but it soon became apparent there was more to the story. The mystery went un-solved for a few years and then it was revealed that the singer suffered from a condition called ptosis (which causes drooping of the upper or lower eyelid).
But that didn’t stop her chart domination, and she continued on her successful ride by picking up a BRIT Award for Best British Breakthrough Act, and lit up the charts with melodic corkers such as Rise, Out Of Reach – (the one on the Bridget Jones soundtrack), and the Shai cover If You Ever, a collaboration with East 17. There was also my personal favourite Sunshine. She picked up another BRIT in 1997, this time for Best British Female. Her sophomore album Rise was also a huge hit, although subsequent album releases were not as successful.
What stands out about all he aforementioned tracks, (for me anyway), is the melodies. They are in a word: beautiful. So many effortless notes travelling down twisty, bendy roads which lead you to a fulfilling finish. They touch something inside of you and make you tingle. As cheesy as that sounds.
I also feel Gabrielle didn’t really get the credit she deserved for her song-writing talent, as she wrote most of her hit material and the tracks featured on her popular albums. This was kind of rectified in 2008 when she picked up the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Collection.
But what made our Gabs shine through most, however, was the fact most people could relate to her. She was always came across as a real person and very down-to-earth in interviews. There was a story that came out at the height of her fame, where the father of her then-baby son was sent to prison for murder, and she spoke out about it with dignity, even though it was obviously very traumatic for her, thus showing the average Joe that everyone has their problems, even millionaire popstars.
She really did appear as if she could almost be living just next door to you, popping round for a cuppa every now and then. But of course she probably lived in a big old mansion somewhere out in the country, with all the royalties she picked up. But good on her!
Word on the street is Gabrielle is back in the studio and should have a new album out by the end of the year! Can’t wait!
By Lara Piras
Ed Says: Gabrielle definitely helped popularised the finger-wave hairstyle when she first surfaced in 1993, along with Renee from US r&b duo Zhane who also sported the look in the early 90s ! I had the style and loved it!