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 Miserables 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. She credits the art form 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. She was subsequently picked up by Elton’s management company Rocket Music. In 2013, Anne-Marie released the demo Summer Girl, which drew some attention, most notably from 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.
After guesting on tracks by dubstep super group 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 Records. 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 2015 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. 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.