Florence Welch

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Florence Welch
A photograph shot from below Welch as she sings into a microphone
Welch singing in 2012
Background information
Birth nameFlorence Leontine Mary Welch
Born(1986-08-28) 28 August 1986 (age 26)
Camberwell, London, England
GenresIndie rock, baroque pop, art rock, indie pop, soul
OccupationsMusician, singer, songwriter, arranger
InstrumentsVocals, piano, drums, auto-harp, guitar
Years active2007–present
Associated actsFlorence and the Machine, Calvin Harris
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Florence Welch
A photograph shot from below Welch as she sings into a microphone
Welch singing in 2012
Background information
Birth nameFlorence Leontine Mary Welch
Born(1986-08-28) 28 August 1986 (age 26)
Camberwell, London, England
GenresIndie rock, baroque pop, art rock, indie pop, soul
OccupationsMusician, singer, songwriter, arranger
InstrumentsVocals, piano, drums, auto-harp, guitar
Years active2007–present
Associated actsFlorence and the Machine, Calvin Harris

Florence Leontine Mary Welch[1] (born 28 August 1986)[2][3][4] is an English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead singer of Florence + the Machine, an English indie rock band. The band's debut album, Lungs, was released in 2009; on 17 January 2010, the album reached the top position, after being on the chart for twenty-eight consecutive weeks. The group's second studio album, Ceremonials, released in October 2011, debuted at number one in the UK and number six in the US.


Early Life

Born in Camberwell, Florence is the niece of the satirist Craig Brown[5] and granddaughter of former deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph and former Daily Mail parliamentary sketchwriter Colin Welch.[6] She is the daughter of Evelyn Welch, an American Professor of Renaissance Studies and Vice-Principal for Arts & Sciences at King's College London[7] and Nick Welch, an advertising executive.[5] Her British father, Nick, contributed a "rock and roll element to the family mix;" in his 20s he used to live in a West End squat and attended the Squatters' Ball organised by Heathcote Williams where The 101ers played regularly.[8] A self-confessed "frustrated performer," if Nick, as he put it, "nudged Flo in any way, it's only been to listen to the Ramones rather than Green Day."[8] Evelyn had an equally strong yet completely different influence on her daughter. A visit to one of her mother's lectures left teenage Florence deeply impressed. She explained, "I aspire to something like that but with music. I hope that my music has some of the big themes—sex, death, love, violence—that will still be part of the human story in 200 years' time."[8]

Florence was educated at Thomas's London Day School then went onto Alleyn's School, South East London, where she did well academically.[1] Welch often got in trouble in school for impromptu singing.[1] Welch has been diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia.[9] Following her meteoric rise to fame, she suffered a bout of depression.[10] Upon leaving school, Florence studied at Camberwell College of Arts before dropping out to focus on her music.[1] Welch's fascination with terror and doom was intensified by the death of her grandparents within a few years of each other. At the age of 10 Welch witnessed her grandfather's deterioration, and her maternal grandmother, also an art historian, committed suicide when Welch was 14.[1] When Welch was 13 years old, she and her mother moved in with their next door neighbour and his three teenage children. According to Welch: "We get on brilliantly now, but it was a nightmare then. I just used to stay in my room and dance around."[11]

Music career

Early years

According to Welch, "The name Florence and the Machine started off as a private joke that got out of hand. I made music with my friend, who we called Isabella Machine to which I was Florence Robot. When I was about an hour away from my first gig, I still didn't have a name, so I thought 'Okay, I'll be Florence Robot/Isa Machine', before realising that name was so long it'd drive me mad."[1][12] In 2006, Welch's performances with Summers in small London venues under the joint name Florence Robot/Isa Machine began to attract notice.[citation needed]

In 2007, Welch recorded with a band named Ashok, who released an album titled Plans on the Filthy Lucre/About Records label. This album included the earliest version of her later hit "Kiss with a Fist", which at this point was titled "Happy Slap".[13] She signed a contract for Ashok with a manager, but feeling that she was "in the wrong band" she resigned, which cancelled the contract.[1] Florence and the Machine is managed by Mairead Nash (one half of the DJ duo Queens of Noize), who decided to manage the singer when an inebriated Welch followed Nash into the toilets at a club[1][9] and sang Etta James' 1962 song "Something's Got a Hold on Me".[5]

2008–present: Florence and the Machine

Florence and the Machine released their debut album Lungs in the United Kingdom on 6 July 2009. The album was officially launched with a set at the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, South East London. It peaked at number one in the UK and number two in Ireland. As of 6 August 2009, the album had sold over 100,000 copies in the UK and by 10 August it had been at number two for five consecutive weeks.[14][15] Following its 25 July 2009 release for download in the United States, the album debuted at number seventeen on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart,[16] ultimately peaking at number one.[17] The album was released physically in the US on 20 October by Universal Republic.[18] The album was produced by James Ford, Paul Epworth, Steve Mackey and Charlie Hugall.[19]

Florence singing at the Berkeley Greek Theater on the Lungs Tour 2011.

Welch contributed vocals to David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's 2010 album Here Lies Love, an album about Imelda Marcos.[20] As of January 2011, Welch was working with Drake on material slated for his upcoming record.[21]

The band's second album, Ceremonials, was released on 31 October 2011. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and number six on the US Billboard 200.[22][23] On 12 January 2012, Florence and the Machine were nominated for two Brit Awards, with the awards ceremony taking place on 21 February 2012 at the O2 Arena, London.[24] On 26 April 2012, the band released "Breath of Life", a song which was recorded as the official theme song for the film Snow White & the Huntsman.[25][26] On 5 July 2012, a remix of "Spectrum (Say My Name)" by Scottish musician Calvin Harris was released as the fourth single from Ceremonials, becoming the band's first UK number-one hit.[27] Welch has expressed excitement about putting new material together for a third album after the band finishes touring at the end of September 2012.[28]

In October 2012, she featured on Scottish singer-songwriter and producer Calvin Harris's song "Sweet Nothing", which debuted and peaked at number one on the UK singles chart, marking Welch's second number one.[29] The song was taken from Harris's third studio album 18 Months and is the fifth single from the album. "Sweet Nothing" also peaked at number one in Ireland and number two in Australia and New Zealand. "Sweet Nothing" was certified Platinum in Australia.


Music and influences

Florence and the Machine performing at Coachella 2012

Welch possesses a contralto vocal range.[30] Florence has been compared to other female singers such as Kate Bush,[31][32] Siouxsie Sioux,[31][32] PJ Harvey,[31] and Björk.[32] During an interview, Welch cited Grace Slick as her influence and "hero".[33] Florence and the Machine's style has been described[by whom?] as "dark, robust and romantic".[31] Their music is a mix of "classic soul and midnight-on-the-moors English art rock".[31] Florence Welch stated that her lyrics related to Renaissance artists : "We're dealing with all of the same things they did : love and death, time and pain, heaven and hell".[34] From 2008, Welch had a relationship with Stuart Hammond, a literary editor: their temporary split provided inspiration for much of Lungs.[35]

Public Image

When discussing her fashion style, Welch said that, "For the stage, it's The Lady of Shalott meets Ophelia...mixed with scary gothic bat lady. But in real life I'm kind of prim."[36] Welch has become noticed for her red curls (though she is actually a natural brunette[37][38]) and a style that has been described as daring but nonchalant. As a teenager she read fashion magazines more often than music magazines. Early in her music career she dressed in a tomboy style. 2011 saw Gucci dressing her for her summer tour and a performance at the Chanel runway show at Paris Fashion Week[39]. Welch describes 1970s American drag queen troupe Cockettes and French beatnik singer Françoise Hardy as fashion mentors.[40] Welch has also named Fleetwood Mac pop/rock singer Stevie Nicks as a musical, fashion, and general influence. A Huffington Post entertainment article quotes her as telling a reporter that "I'm pretty obsessed with Stevie Nicks from her style to her voice. I like watching her on YouTube and her old performances, the way she moves and everything." Welch can sometimes be seen in concert paying homage to Nicks' famous billowing stage dress.[41]

Personal life

Welch had a long term relationship with a literary editor, Stuart Hammond, from 2008. Their temporary split provided inspiration for much of the Lungs album.[35] Welch says, "He prefers me not to talk about it. It's funny then singing about it."[14] In 2011 the couple broke up by mutual decision because of conflicting career demands, and the breakup provided material for Florence and The Machine's second album Ceremonials.[42]


As featured artist

List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
SingleYearPeak chart positionsCertificationsAlbum
"Here Lies Love"
(David Byrne & Fatboy Slim featuring Florence Welch)
2010Here Lies Love
"Sweet Nothing"
(Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch)
201212801710191253361018 Months
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released.

Album appearances

"I Come Apart"
(ASAP Rocky featuring Florence Welch)
2013Long. Live. ASAP


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  38. ^ Absolute Radio interview 4 February 2009
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External links