Jamelia Davis was born on January 11, 1981, in Birmingham, England, and grew up in the Smethwick area of the city. She loved listening to R&B and urban music, and began singing and writing songs at an early age.
In 1996, Jamelia’s voice caught the attention of an A&R executive from Parlophone Records in 1996, after a cousin of hers submitted one of her self-penned a cappella Karaoke machine recordings to the company. She was asked to travel to London for an audition, and was subsequently signed to the label at the age of 15.
“So High,” Jamelia’s debut single, was released in 1999. The song entered the UK charts, and was the first of four British Top 40 hits to be pulled from her debut album, Drama, released in 2000. “Money,” featuring guest vocals from Beenie Man, became the album’s biggest hit, reaching the Top 5 in England.
Jamelia spent part of the summer of 2000 playing a small role as a church choir leader in the film SW9, which starred renowned British DJ Paul Oakenfold. She also recorded a song for the film’s soundtrack.
In September of that year, she learned of her nominations for four MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards: Best Single, Best Video, Best Newcomer, and Best Album. After taking home the Best Video award, Jamelia’s career was abruptly put on hold following an unexpected but welcome pregnancy. She gave birth to her daughter, Teja, in March of 2001, and took a couple more years off to raise her baby girl.
The singer returned in the summer of 2003, with the single “Bout,” co-written with C Swing (who had also written “Money”), and featuring New York-based female rapper Rah Digga. The song became her fifth consecutive chart hit in Britain, and paved the way for the international smash entitled “Superstar” which reached No. 3 in Britain, became a huge hit across Europe, and went all the way to No. 1 in Australia and New Zealand.
In February 2004, Jamelia was put up for two Brit Awards, Best British Female Solo Artist and Best British Single for “Superstar.” After standing in for supermodel Naomi Campbell at the Awards ceremony, she was invited to join Campbell’s modeling agency.
Her second album, Thank You, peaked at No. 4 on the UK album charts in March 2004, while the title track, a song about domestic abuse, debuted at No. 2 on the British singles charts, and also did well elsewhere in Europe.
In June, Jamelia kicked off her first UK headline tour, a quick six-venue run to support her sophomore album. The single “See It In A Boy’s Eyes,” written especially for her by one of Britian’s top music stars, Chris Martin of Coldplay, was released the same month. The song became a smash in the UK, reaching the Top 5.
She also contributed a song to the soundtrack of television’s The Simple Life 2, which was released on June 15, 2004, and performed at the Olympic Torch Concert in London on June 26, 2004.
Jamelia was a headliner at Staffordshire’s V2004 Festival in August. Her second album amassed three of the 2004 MOBO awards, in the categories of UK Act Of The Year, Best Single (for “Thank You”), and Best Video (for “See It In A Boy’s Eyes”).
She also earned an Urban Music Awards (UMA) nod for Best Crossover Chart Act, while Thank You made the shortlist for the Mercury Music Prize as Best Album.
Jamelia is currently considering more film roles that have been sent her way. In October of 2004, she signed a promotional contract with Reebok.