British pop-soul chanteuse Kelli-Leigh made her name as a backup singer for the likes of Adele before the runaway success of two dance tracks on which she had appeared paved the way for a solo career. Born Kelli-Leigh Henry-Davila in 1985 and brought up in Selhurst, South London, she dreamed of being a singer, taking her first and only "normal" job just so she could save up to buy a keyboard on which to write. Graduating in the same BRIT School class as Leona Lewis and Katie Melua, the reputation she built up as a talented and dependable backing vocalist landed her a gig with Adele on the singer's tour to promote her debut album. During the tour, Adele's second album 21 was released and became a massive smash hit, leading to Kelli-Leigh performing with her at the Grammys and the Oscars. Following the end of the tour in 2012, she recorded and released her debut EP, I Am Here, but it failed to chart. She moved to Poland, where she lived and worked for a year-and-a-half, and was on the verge of signing to Universal there when she was involved in a serious car wreck which left her unable to walk for months.
Despite being in a wheelchair, she showed up when she got the call to do a session vocal for house producer Duke Dumont. The resultant 2014 single "I Got U," powered by her Whitney-esque turn, went to number one in the U.K. and, just months later, another single on which she had provided uncredited vocals -- Secondcity's "I Wanna Feel" -- did the same. This sudden success gave her the boost she needed and she decided to start work again on a solo career. Over the course of the next few years, while working on her debut album, she co-wrote and featured on so many popular singles that one BBC Radio 1 DJ dubbed her "the voice of U.K. dance music." The biggest of these was James Hype's 2017 hit "More Than Friends," which went to number eight on the U.K. singles chart. ~ John D. Buchanan