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Ester Dean
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NEW YORK (Billboard) - Three songs from the soundtrack to the upcoming LeBron James documentary, “More Than a Game,” bowed this month on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. And two of the three are by newcomer Ester Dean.
Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Dean co-wrote Mary J. Blige’s empowering “Stronger,” which is No. 91 on the chart, as well as her own energetic “Drop It Low,” which sits at No. 64 four weeks after entering the tally at No. 88. Both tracks were written in collaboration with others, including singer-songwriter Chris Brown, who is also featured on “Low.” The third “More” chart entry is Drake’s “Forever” featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem. It’s No. 40 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
“I hooked up with Chris in a Los Angeles recording studio,” says Dean. “I’d never written with him, but all of a sudden he was like, ‘This is what we’re going to do; we’re going to write it like this.’ After a while, we had a bunch of songs. So when (Interscope Geffen A&M chairman) Jimmy Iovine said he wanted a song for the soundtrack about how strong someone can be, the ‘Stronger’ track made perfect sense.”
Songwriting is second nature for Dean. She has written for the likes of Keri Hilson, Ciara and the Pussycat Dolls, to name a few, and is signed to a publishing deal with producer Christopher “Tricky” Stewart’s RedZone Publishing. But when it came to being in the spotlight herself, Dean — who signed with producer Polow Da Don’s Zone 4/Interscope label earlier this year — had reservations.
“I didn’t want to be an artist because I was scared,” confesses Dean. “I had attempted that before, but I was told I had to lose 20 pounds when I only weighed 130 pounds. It tainted me. However, Polow wanted to embrace everything about me and welcomed me to his family just the way I am.”
Dean is six songs into her as-yet-untitled debut album, which thus far has been produced in its entirety by Polow. Dean also continues to put pen to paper for other artists, having recently worked with Usher.
Looking forward, Dean says she won’t allow the disapproval of a shallow industry to slow her down. “I’m wiser now and know how to handle things differently,” she says. “To see a song with my name on the charts makes me thank God that I went ahead with this. The reward is so much greater than any denigrating comment. It tells me that I did good.”
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