Combining the vocal prowess of Beyoncé, the genre-hopping sounds of Gwen Stefani, and the feisty attitude of P!nk, songwriter Jessie J eventually overcame various career setbacks and health problems to become a star in her own right. Born Jessica Cornish in Chadwell Heath, London in 1988, she started her career in show biz at the age of 11, performing in the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind. After studying musical theater at the prestigious BRITS School, she signed a deal with indie label Gut Records, which went bankrupt before releasing any of her music.
Following a minor stroke at age 18, she gained a Sony publishing contract and penned hits for the likes of Chris Brown, Dutch X Factor winner Lisa Lois, and Miley Cyrus (the American number two hit “Party in the USA”). After building up an established online presence, she signed to Universal Records and began working with the likes of hitmaker Dr. Luke (Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson), Atlanta rapper B.o.B, and R&B producer Labrinth on her debut album, Who You Are. In 2010, her first single, “Do It Like a Dude,” originally written for Rihanna, reached number 25 in the U.K. charts and, following in the footsteps of Adele, Florence + the Machine, and Ellie Goulding, she was announced as the winner of the Critics Choice Award at the 2011 Brits. That same year, an appearance on Saturday Night Live coincided with her album being reissued in the U.S.