Gwen Stefani (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Gwen Rene Stefani (born October 3, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, and fashion designer. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the band No Doubt that experienced major success after their breakthrough studio album Tragic Kingdom (1995) along with several successful singles including; "Don't Speak", "Hey Baby" and "It's My Life". During the band's hiatus, Stefani embarked on a solo pop career in 2004 by releasing her debut studio album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Inspired by pop music from the 1980s, the album was met with both critical and commercial success. It spawned three commercially successful singles: "What You Waiting For?", "Rich Girl", and "Hollaback Girl", the latter reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 while also becoming the first US download to sell one million copies. In 2006 Stefani released her second studio album The Sweet Escape. The album produced two successful singles: "Wind It Up" and the album's title track "The Sweet Escape". Her third solo album This Is What the Truth Feels Like was released in March 2016 and became her first solo number-one album on the Billboard 200.
Stefani has won three Grammy Awards. As a solo artist she has received several accolades, including an American Music Award, Brit Award, World Music Award and two Billboard Music Awards. In 2003, she debuted her clothing line L.A.M.B. and expanded her collection with the 2005 Harajuku Lovers line, drawing inspiration from Japanese culture and fashion. Stefani performs and makes public appearances with four back-up dancers known as the Harajuku Girls. She was married to British musician Gavin Rossdale from 2002 to 2015 and they have three sons. Billboard magazine ranked Stefani the 54th most successful artist and 37th most successful Hot 100 artist of the 2000-09 decade. VH1 ranked her 13th on their "100 Greatest Women in Music" list in 2012. Including her work with No Doubt, Stefani has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.
Life and career
1969-1985: Early life
Stefani was born on October 3, 1969, in Fullerton, California, and raised Roman Catholic in Anaheim, California. She was named after a stewardess in the 1968 novel Airport, and her middle name, Rene, comes from The Four Tops' 1968 cover of The Left Banke's 1966 song "Walk Away Rene". Her father, Dennis Stefani, is Italian American and worked as a Yamaha marketing executive. Her mother, Patti (ne Flynn), worked as an accountant before becoming a housewife. Gwen's parents were fans of folk music and exposed her to music by artists like Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris. She has two younger siblings, Jill and Todd, and an older brother named Eric. Eric was the keyboardist for No Doubt before leaving the band to pursue a career in animation on The Simpsons.
1986-2004: No Doubt
Her brother Eric introduced Gwen to 2 Tone music by Madness and The Selecter, and in 1986, he invited her to provide vocals for No Doubt, a ska band he was forming. Finally, in 1991, the band was signed to Interscope Records. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1992, but its ska-pop sound was unsuccessful due to the popularity of grunge. Before the mainstream success of both No Doubt and Sublime, Stefani contributed guest vocals to "Saw Red" on Sublime's 1994 album Robbin' the Hood. Stefani rejected the aggressiveness of female grunge artists and cited Blondie singer Debbie Harry's combination of power and sex appeal as a major influence. No Doubt's third album, Tragic Kingdom (1995), which followed the self-released The Beacon Street Collection (1995), took more than three years to make. Five singles were released from Tragic Kingdom', including "Don't Speak", which led the Hot 100 Airplay year-end chart of 1997. Stefani left college for one semester to tour for Tragic Kingdom but did not return when touring lasted two and a half years. As of 2014, the album sold more than 16 million copies worldwide, In late 2000, Rolling Stone magazine named her "The Queen of Confessional Pop".
During the time when No Doubt was receiving mainstream success, Stefani collaborated on the singles "You're the Boss" with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, "South Side" with Moby, and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" with Eve. No Doubt released the less popular Return of Saturn in 2000, which expanded upon the new wave influences of Tragic Kingdom. Most of the lyrical content focused on Stefani's often rocky relationship with then-Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale and her overall insecurities, including indecision on settling down and having a child. The band's 2001 album, Rock Steady, explored more reggae and dancehall sounds, while maintaining the band's new wave influences, and generally received positive reviews. The album generated career-highest singles chart positions in the United States, and "Hey Baby" and "Underneath It All" received Grammy Awards. A greatest hits collection, The Singles 1992-2003, which includes a cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life", was released in 2003 to moderate sales. In 2002, Eve and Stefani won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind".
2004-06: Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and acting debut
Stefani's debut solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. was released in November 2004. The album features a large number of collaborations with producers and other artists, including Tony Kanal, Tom Rothrock, Linda Perry, Andr 3000, Nellee Hooper, The Neptunes and New Order. Stefani created the album to modernize the music to which she listened when in high school, and L.A.M.B. takes influence from a variety of music styles of the 1980s and early 1990s such as new wave, synthpop, and electro. Stefani's decision to use her solo career as an opportunity to delve further into pop music instead of trying "to convince the world of [her] talent, depth and artistic worth" was considered unusual. As a result, reviews of the album were mixed, and it was described as "fun as hell but [...] not exactly rife with subversive social commentary." The album debuted on the US Billboard 200 albums chart at number seven, selling 309,000 copies in its first week. L.A.M.B. was a commercial success reaching multi-platinum status in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
The first single released from the album was "What You Waiting For?", which debuted atop the ARIA Singles Chart, charted at number 47 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top ten on most other charts. The song served to explain why Stefani produced a solo album and discusses her fears in leaving No Doubt for a solo career as well as her desire to have a baby. "Rich Girl" was released as the album's second single. A duet with rapper Eve, and produced by Dr. Dre, it is an adaptation of a 1990s pop song by British musicians Louchie Lou & Michie One, which itself is a very loose cover lyrically but closer melodically of "If I Were a Rich Man", from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. "Rich Girl" proved successful on several formats, and reached the US and UK top ten. The album's third single "Hollaback Girl" became Stefani's first US and second Australian number-one single; it reached top ten elsewhere. The song was the first US music download to sell more than one million copies, and its brass-driven composition remained popular throughout 2005. The fourth single "Cool" was released shortly following the popularity of its predecessor, reaching the top 20 in US and UK. The song's lyrics and its accompanying music video, filmed in Lake Como, Italy, depict Stefani's former relationship with Kanal. "Luxurious" was released as the album's fifth single, but did not perform as well as its predecessors. "Crash" was released in early 2006 as the album's sixth single in lieu of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.'s sequel, which Stefani postponed because of her pregnancy.
In 2004, Stefani showed interest in making film appearances and began auditioning for films such as Mr. & Mrs. Smith. She made her acting debut playing Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator in 2004. Scorsese, whose daughter was a No Doubt fan, showed reciprocal interest in casting Stefani after seeing her picture from a Marilyn Monroe-inspired photo shoot for Teen Vogue in 2003. To prepare for the role, Stefani read two biographies and watched 18 of Harlow's films. Shooting her part took four to five days, and Stefani had few lines. Stefani lent her voice to the title character of the 2004 video game Malice; before completion, however, the company opted not to use No Doubt band members' voices.
2006-08: The Sweet Escape
Stefani's second studio album, The Sweet Escape, was released on December 1, 2006. Stefani continued work with Kanal, Perry, and The Neptunes, along with Akon and Tim Rice-Oxley from English rock band Keane. The album focuses more heavily on electronic and dance music for clubs than its predecessor. Its release coincided with the DVD release of Stefani's first tour, entitled Harajuku Lovers Live. The album received mixed reviews by critics, who found that it "has a surprisingly moody, lightly autobiographical feel... but Stefani isn't convincing as a dissatisfied diva" and called the album a "hasty return" that repeats Love. Angel. Music. Baby. with less energy.
"Wind It Up", the album's lead single, received mixed reviews by critics for its use of yodeling and an interpolation of The Sound of Music, but was moderately successful, peaking inside the top 10 in the US and the UK. The title track was well received and was a major success, reaching the top 10 in over 15 nations, including number two peaks in the US, Australia and the UK. To promote The Sweet Escape, Stefani was a mentor on the sixth season of American Idol and performed the song with Akon. The song earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Three more singles were released from the album; "4 in the Morning", "Now That You Got It" which featured Damian Marley and "Early Winter". To promote the album, Stefani embarked on a worldwide tour, The Sweet Escape Tour, which covered North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific and part of Latin America. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly on June 6, 2011, Stefani stated that she had no plans to continue work as a solo artist, adding, "That was a moment in time [...] It went on a little longer than we all thought it would, because it was inspired and you have to go with wherever you're at in that time in your life... But everything works out how it should."
2008-13: Return to No Doubt
With Stefani promoting The Sweet Escape, No Doubt began work on a new album without her and planned to complete it after Stefani's The Sweet Escape Tour was finished. In March 2008, the band started making posts concerning the progression of the album on their official fan forum. Stefani made a post on March 28, 2008 stating that songwriting had commenced but was slow on her end because she was, at the time, pregnant with her second child. The Singles 1992-2003 became available on December 9, 2008 for the video game Rock Band 2. Adrian Young played drums on Scott Weiland's album "Happy" in Galoshes. No Doubt announced on their official website they wanted to tour in 2009 while finishing their upcoming album, which was set for release in 2010. On November 24, 2008, it was announced that No Doubt would be headlining the Bamboozle 2009 festival in May, along with Fall Out Boy. The band completed a national tour in the summer of 2009. In 2010, they resumed writing their record, which was later recorded in 2011.
On June 11, 2012, the band announced on their official website that the new album would be out on September 25, preceded by the first single on July 16. The album was titled Push and Shove and the first single was a song called "Settle Down". The music video for "Settle Down" was directed by Sophie Muller (who has previously directed numerous music videos for No Doubt). Also around this time No Doubt were guest mentors for the UK version of the X Factor. "Settle Down" peaked at 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the album peaking at number three on the US Billboard 200. On November 3, 2012, the band pulled its music video "Looking Hot" from the Internet after receiving complaints that it was insensitive towards Native Americans.
2014-present: The Voice and This Is What the Truth Feels Like
On April 12, 2014, Stefani made a surprise appearance at the Coachella festival, where she joined Pharrell Williams onstage during his set to perform "Hollaback Girl". On April 29, it was officially confirmed that Stefani would join the seventh season of The Voice as a coach, replacing Christina Aguilera. After nine years since the last time, she attended the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, and during an interview on the red carpet she said, "I didn't know I was gonna have a baby, I didn't know I was gonna be on The Voice, I didn't know I was gonna be writing new music, so I'm just like, what's gonna be next?". Stefani appears as a featured artist on Maroon 5's song "My Heart Is Open", co-written by Sia Furler, from the band's album V, which was performed for the first time with Adam Levine and an orchestra at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Stefani also collaborated with Calvin Harris on the track "Together" from his album Motion. Both albums were released in 2014. A collaboration with Snoop Dogg, entitled "Run Away", was released on his 2015 studio album Bush.
On September 8, 2014, Stefani told MTV News during New York Fashion Week that she was working on both a No Doubt album and a solo album. She also revealed that she was working with Williams. Stefani released her comeback single "Baby Don't Lie" on October 20, 2014, co-written with producers Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, and Noel Zancanella. Billboard revealed that her third studio album was set to be released in December and Benny Blanco is set to executive produce it. In late October, a sneak peek of a new track from Stefani's third album, named "Spark the Fire", was premiered. The song was produced by Pharrell Williams. On November 23, the full song premiered online and was made available for download on December 1. Both "Baby Don't Lie" and "Spark the Fire" were later scrapped from Stefani's third album. On January 13, 2015, Stefani and Williams also recorded a song titled "Shine", for the Paddington soundtrack. Stefani and Sia Furler worked together on a ballad, called "Start a War" that is expected to be released on Stefani's third studio album as well. On July 10, 2015, American rapper Eminem featured Stefani on his single "Kings Never Die", from the Southpaw film soundtrack. The track debuted and peaked at number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and matched first-week digital download sales of 35,000 copies.
On October 17, 2015, Stefani performed a concert as part of her MasterCard Priceless Surprises tour series at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, where she performed a new song about her breakup with ex-husband Gavin Rossdale, titled "Used to Love You". It was released as a download on October 20, 2015. The video was released later that same day. The song was released to Mainstream radio in the U.S. on October 27, 2015. The track is the first official single off her third solo album This Is What the Truth Feels Like, which she has been working on since summer 2015. Stefani said much of the previous material she worked on in 2014 felt forced and inauthentic, the opposite of what she had originally wanted. The album's second single, "Make Me Like You", was released on February 12, 2016. This Is What the Truth Feels Like was released on March 18, 2016, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 84,000 album-equivalent units sold in its first week, earning Stefani her first number-one album on the chart as a solo artist. To further promote the album, Stefani will embark on her This Is What the Truth Feels Like Tour with rapper Eve in the United States. The singer will voice character DJ Suki in the upcoming animated film Trolls, due for release on November 4, 2016. Additionally, Stefani is included on two songs for the film's official soundtrack, paired alongside American singer Justin Timberlake. On September 8, 2016, Stefani announced that she would be performing at the final two shows at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre for October 29-30, as part of an event called Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre Final Shows. Additionally, American rock band Young the Giant will open for the two shows.
Stefani made most of the clothing that she wore on stage with No Doubt, resulting in increasingly eclectic combinations. Stylist Andrea Lieberman introduced her to haute couture clothing, which led to Stefani launching a fashion line named L.A.M.B. in 2004. The line takes influence from a variety of fashions, including Guatemalan, Japanese, and Jamaican styles. The line achieved popularity among celebrities and is worn by stars such as Teri Hatcher, Nicole Kidman, and Stefani herself. In June 2005, she expanded her collection with the less expensive Harajuku Lovers line, which she referred to as "a glorified merchandise line", with varied products including a camera, mobile phone charms, and undergarments. In late 2006, Stefani released a limited edition line of dolls called "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Fashion dolls". The dolls are inspired by the various fashion that Stefani and the Harajuku Girls wore while touring for the album.
In 2014, Stefani announced the production of an animated series about her and the Harajuku Girls. Along with Vision Animation and Moody Street Kids, Stefani has helped create the show which features her, Love, Angel, Music, and Baby as the band, HJ5, who fight evil whilst trying to pursue their music career. Mattel have signed on as the global toy licensee and the series itself, Kuu Kuu Harajuku will be distributed worldwide by DHX Media.
In late summer 2007, Stefani launched a perfume, L, as a part of her L.A.M.B. collection of clothing and accessories. The perfume has high notes of sweet pea and rose. In September 2008, Stefani released a fragrance line as a part of her Harajuku Lovers product line. There are five different fragrances based on the four Harajuku Girls and Stefani herself called Love, Lil' Angel, Music, Baby and G (Gwen). As of January 2011, Stefani has become the spokesperson for L'Oral Paris.
Soon after Stefani joined No Doubt, she and bandmate Tony Kanal began dating, to which she stated that she was heavily invested in the relationship. Stefani commented that "...all I ever did was look at Tony and pray that God would let me have a baby with him." During this time, the band almost split up because of the failed romantic relationship between Stefani and Kanal. Kanal ended the relationship. Their break-up inspired Stefani lyrically, and many of the album's songs, such as "Don't Speak", "Sunday Morning", and "Hey You!", chronicle the ups and downs of their relationship.
During mid-1995, No Doubt and rock band Goo Goo Dolls went on tour opening for alternative rock band Bush. Stefani met Bush guitarist and lead singer Gavin Rossdale. They married on September 14, 2002, with a wedding in St Paul's, Covent Garden, London. A second wedding was held in Los Angeles two weeks later. According to Stefani, it was held so that she could wear her custom-designed wedding dress by John Galliano twice.
Stefani has three sons with Rossdale; Kingston James McGregor Rossdale born on May 26, 2006, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale born on August 21, 2008, and Apollo Bowie Flynn Rossdale born February 28, 2014. On August 3, 2015, Stefani filed for divorce from Rossdale, citing "irreconcilable differences". Their divorce was finalized on April 8, 2016, to which Rossdale agreed to the "unequal split" of their assets. On November 4, 2015, Stefani and her The Voice co-star, country music artist Blake Shelton, announced that they were dating.
Stefani possesses a mezzo-soprano, which can span several octaves. Stefani's unusual and dynamic vocals have been noted for their "deep vibrato" and Stefani has been described as having a "unique vocal prowess". The Chicago Tribune stated that Stefani had a "brash alto." In the single "Cool", her vocal range covers around one and a half octaves. Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times joked that as Stefani grew as a musician, she kicked her "addiction" to vibrato.
Stefani's debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. took influence from a variety of 1980s genres Which included electropop, new wave, dance-rock, hip hop, R&B, soul, and disco music. Stefani cited early Madonna, Lisa Lisa, Club Nouveau, Depeche Mode, Prince, New Order and The Cure as major influences for the album. Several of the album's tracks were designed for clubs, and contained electro beats meant for dancing. Dealing with fashion and wealth, the singer name-drops several designers who she considered inspirations in her personal career, such as John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. Her second studio album The Sweet Escape resembles musically its predecessor while exploring more modern pop sounds, dabbling heavily into genres such as dance-pop and rap. It carried on the same themes developed in Love. Angel. Music. Baby., and was criticized for doing so. This Is What the Truth Feels Like, the singer's third album, continued Stefani's endeavors with the pop genre. However, she incorporated music from a variety of other genres, including reggae, disco, and dancehall, in addition to the use of guitars. Stefani's lyrics shifted towards events that had recently occurred in her personal life, such as her divorce from husband Rossdale, and newfound relationship in Shelton. Additionally, the singer stated her album wasn't "about revenge" like others had interpreted it, and that it was actually "about forgiveness".
Stefani began wearing a bindi in the mid-1990s after attending several family gatherings for Tony Kanal, who is of Indian heritage. During No Doubt's breakthrough, Stefani wore the forehead decoration in several of the band's music videos and briefly popularized the accessory in 1997. First attracting attention in the 1995 music video for "Just a Girl", Stefani is known for her midriff and frequently wears shirts that expose it. Stefani's makeup design generally includes light face powder, bright red lipstick, and arched eyebrows; she wrote about the subject in a song titled "Magic's in the Makeup" for No Doubt's Return of Saturn, asking "If the magic's in the makeup/Then who am I?". Stefani is a natural brunette, though her hair has not been its natural color since she was in ninth grade. Since late 1994, she has had usually platinum blond hair. Stefani discussed this in the song "Platinum Blonde Life" on Rock Steady and played original blond bombshell Jean Harlow in the 2004 biopic The Aviator. Despite appearing mostly with blonde hair, she also dyed her hair blue in 1998 and pink in 2000, when she appeared on the cover of Return of Saturn with pink hair.
In 2006, Stefani modified her image, inspired by that of Michelle Pfeiffer's character in the 1983 film Scarface. The reinvented image included a symbol consisting of two back-to-back 'G's, which appears on a diamond-encrusted key she wears on a necklace and which became a motif in the promotion of The Sweet Escape. Stefani raised concerns in January 2007 about her rapid weight loss following her pregnancy. She later stated that she had been on a diet since the sixth grade to fit in size 4 clothing, commenting, "It's an ongoing battle and it's a nightmare. But I like clothes too much, and I always wanted to wear the outfits I would make." A wax figure of Stefani was unveiled at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas at The Venetian on September 22, 2010. The release of Stefani's first solo album brought attention to her entourage of four Harajuku Girls, who appear in outfits influenced by Gothic Lolita fashion, and are named for the area around the Harajuku Station of Tokyo, Japan. Stefani's clothing also took influence from Japanese fashion, in a style described as a combination between Christian Dior and Japan. The dancers are featured in her music videos, press coverage, and on the album cover for Love. Angel. Music. Baby., with a song named for and dedicated to them on the album. They were also featured in, and the namesake for, Stefani's Harajuku Lovers Tour. Forbes magazine reported Stefani's earnings in 2008, calculating that she earned $27 million between June 2007 to June 2008 for her tour, fashion line and commercials, making her the world's 10th highest paid music personality at the time.
Achievements and legacy
Throughout her career as a solo artist, Gwen has won several music awards, including one Grammy Award, four MTV Video Music Awards, one American Music Award, one Brit Award, and two Billboard Music Awards. With No Doubt, she has won two Grammy Awards. In 2005, Rolling Stone called her "the only true female rock star left on radio or MTV" and featured her on the magazine's cover. Stefani received the Style Icon Award at the first People Magazine Awards in 2014. Additionally in 2016, the singer was honored at the Radio Disney Music Awards with a Hero Award, which is given to artists based on their personal contributions to various charitable works.
Stefani has been referred to as a "Pop Princess" by several contemporary music critics. In 2012, VH1 listed the singer at the number thirteen on their list of "100 Greatest Women in Music". Stefani's work has influenced a number of artists and musicians including Hayley Williams of Paramore, Best Coast, Katy Perry, Marina and the Diamonds, Stefy, Rita Ora, Sky Ferreira, and Cover Drive. The latter group, a quartet of Barbados musicians, claimed that both Stefani and No Doubt had helped influence their music, to which the lead singer of the group, Amanda Reifer, admitted that she would "pass out" if she were to ever meet Stefani.
The lead single from Love. Angel. Music. Baby., "What You Waiting For?", was considered by Pitchfork to be one of the best singles by Stefani, and would later place it at number sixteen on their "Top 50 Singles of 2004" list. Additionally, "Hollaback Girl" from the aforementioned album would go on to be the first song to digitally sell an excess of one million copies in the United States; it was certified platinum in both the United States and Australia, and peak at number forty-one on Billboards decade-end charts for 2000-09. Since its release in 2005, "Hollaback Girl" has been called Stefani's "signature song" by Rolling Stone.
Following the 2011 T?hoku earthquake and tsunami, Stefani donated $1 million to Save the Children's Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund. Stefani also ran an auction on eBay from April 11 to April 25, 2011, allowing participants to bid on vintage clothing items from her personal wardrobe and custom T-shirts designed and signed by her, as well as on admission to a private Harajuku-themed tea party hosted by her on June 7, 2011 at Los Angeles' first-ever Japanese-style maid caf and pop art space, Royal/T, with proceeds from the auction going to Save the Children's relief effort.
At the amfAR gala during the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Stefani auctioned off the lacy black dress she wore at the event for charity, raising over $125,000. The dress sparked controversy after a representative for designer Michael Angel"?who helped Stefani with the design and worked as a stylist"?alleged that it was Angel who created the gown, not Stefani. In response, Angel released a statement confirming that the dress was designed by Stefani for L.A.M.B. to wear and be auctioned off at the amfAR gala, adding, "I'm disappointed that the focus has shifted away from what Gwen and I originally intended, which was to create a custom outfit for a great cause. We both were thrilled with the outcome and enjoyed the process. I have nothing but respect for her and look forward to working with her on more projects in the future." Stefani hosted a fundraiser with First Lady Michelle Obama in August 2012 at the singer's Beverly Hills home.