Florence Welch is one of the most distinctive and influential voices in contemporary music. As the lead singer and songwriter of Florence + the Machine, she has captivated millions of fans with her powerful vocals, poetic lyrics, and theatrical stage presence. She has also collaborated with artists such as Lady Gaga, Dizzee Rascal, Calvin Harris, and The Rolling Stones.
Florence Welch has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. In this article, we will explore the life, career, and achievements of Florence Welch, as well as some interesting facts about her.
Early Life and Influences
Florence Leontine Mary Welch was born on August 28, 1986, in Camberwell, London, to Nick Russell Welch, an advertising executive, and Evelyn Welch (née Samuels), an American professor of Renaissance studies. She has a younger sister, Grace, and a younger brother, John.
Welch’s parents divorced when she was 13 years old, and her mother remarried to Professor Peter Openshaw, a neighbour and immunologist. Florence Welch has dual citizenship of British and American.
Welch grew up in a musical and artistic family. Her father was a fan of punk rock and introduced her to bands like The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and The Velvet Underground. Her mother exposed her to the art and music of the Renaissance era. She also introduced her to classical composers like Mozart and Chopin.
Welch’s paternal grandmother, Cybil Welch (née Russell), was a Scottish opera singer who encouraged her to pursue her singing talents. Her maternal grandmother, who suffered from bipolar disorder and committed suicide when Welch was 17, also inspired some of her songs.
Florence Welch attended Thomas’s London Day School in Battersea and Alleyn’s School in South East London. She was a bright student who excelled in English literature and art. Welch also participated in school plays and musicals, and sang at family weddings and funerals. She developed a love for reading and writing poetry from a young age. Welch was influenced by writers such as William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf.
Welch started singing in bands when she was a teenager. She joined a local band called The Toxic Cockroaches when she was 14. Welch later became the lead singer of Ashok, a group that blended Gypsy jazz with hip-hop. Welch also met Isabella Summers, a fellow art student who would become her longtime collaborator and friend.
Breakthrough with Florence + the Machine
In 2006, Welch left Ashok to pursue a solo career. She met Mairead Nash, one half of the DJ duo Queens of Noize, at a nightclub in Soho. She impressed Nash with her rendition of Etta James’s “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” in the bathroom. Nash later became her manager. Nash also introduced her to James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, who produced some of her early demos.
In 2007, Florence Welch formed Florence + the Machine with Summers and other musicians. The name was derived from Summers’s nickname “Isa Machine”. They began performing at various venues and festivals in London and beyond. They also released their debut single “Kiss with a Fist” on Moshi Moshi Records in 2008.
The following year, Florence + the Machine released their first album Lungs on Island Records. The album was a critical and commercial success. It topped the UK Albums Chart for five weeks and sold over three million copies worldwide. The album featured hit singles such as “Dog Days Are Over”, “You’ve Got the Love”, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”, “Drumming Song”, and “Cosmic Love”. It also won the Brit Award for Best British Album in 2010.
Florence + the Machine gained international recognition with their stunning performance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. It is where they performed “Dog Days Are Over” with a choir, harpist, drummers, dancers, and acrobats. They also toured extensively across Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia.
Continued Success and Artistic Growth
In 2011, Florence + the Machine released their second album Ceremonials on Island Records. The album was more ambitious and grandiose than their debut, incorporating elements of gospel, soul, baroque pop, and orchestral arrangements. It was also influenced by Welch’s personal experiences. For example, Florence Welch breakup with her boyfriend, her struggle with alcoholism, and her fascination with death and the afterlife.
The album received positive reviews from critics and fans alike. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. The album spawned singles such as “What the Water Gave Me”, “Shake It Out”, “No Light, No Light”, “Never Let Me Go”, and “Spectrum (Say My Name)”, which became their first UK number-one hit. It also earned them two Grammy nominations in 2013.
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
In 2015, Florence + the Machine released their third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful on Island Records. The album marked a departure from their previous sound. It featured a more stripped-down and organic instrumentation, as well as influences from rock, blues, folk, and Americana. It was also inspired by Florence Welch’s recovery from her addiction, her rediscovery of herself, and her exploration of nature and human relationships.
The album was praised for its emotional depth and maturity. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. The album produced singles such as “What Kind of Man”, “Ship to Wreck”, “Queen of Peace”, “Delilah”, and “Third Eye”. It also won the Brit Award for Best British Album in 2016, and was nominated for five Grammys in 2017.
High as Hope
In 2018, Florence + the Machine released their fourth album High as Hope on Virgin EMI Records. The album was the most personal and intimate of their career. It featured confessional lyrics about Welch’s family, childhood, sexuality, eating disorder, loneliness, and love. The album was also the first that Florence Welch co-produced with Emile Haynie. It was the first that she wrote mostly by herself.
The album received acclaim for its honesty and vulnerability. It reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. The album yielded singles such as “Sky Full of Song”, “Hunger”, “Big God”, and “Patricia”. It also earned them two Grammy nominations in 2019.
Other Projects and Collaborations
Besides her work with Florence + the Machine, Florence Welch has also been involved in various other projects and collaborations. She has contributed songs to several film soundtracks, such as “Heavy in Your Arms” for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), “Breath of Life” for Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), “Over the Love” for The Great Gatsby (2013), “Wish That You Were Here” for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016), and “Jenny of Oldstones” for Game of Thrones (2019).
Florence Welch has also collaborated with other artists from different genres and backgrounds. Welch has recorded songs with Lady Gaga (“Hey Girl” for Joanne in 2016), Dizzee Rascal (“You Got the Dirtee Love” in 2010), Calvin Harris (“Sweet Nothing” in 2012), A$AP Rocky (“I Come Apart” in 2013), The Rolling Stones (“Gimme Shelter” in 2012), Foo Fighters (“Times Like These” in 2020), and many others.
In addition, Florence Welch has ventured into other forms of art and media. She has written a book of poetry and lyrics called Useless Magic (2018), which became a bestseller in the UK. Welch has also launched a jewellery line called Flotique (2013), which features designs inspired by her songs. She has also hosted a podcast called Between Two Books (2018-present). The uses the podcast to interview authors and discusses books with her fans.
Facts about Florence Welch
Here are some interesting facts about Florence Welch that you may not know:
- She is a vegetarian and an animal lover. She has two dogs named Missus and Peggy.
- She is dyslexic and has synesthesia, a condition that makes her see colours when she hears sounds.
- She is a fan of astrology and tarot cards. She often consults them before making decisions or writing songs.
- She is a feminist and an activist. She supports causes such as women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, environmentalism, mental health awareness, and refugee aid.
- She is friends with celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Adele, Harry Styles, Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Barack Obama.
The Bottom Line
Florence Welch is a remarkable artist who has made a lasting impact on the music industry and culture. She is known for her unique voice, style, and vision that blend various influences and genres.
Florence Welch is also admired for her authenticity, courage, and generosity that shine through her songs and actions. She is a true inspiration and a role model for many people around the world.