After capturing audiences in the late 2010s with her second-place finish on The X Factor, English singer/songwriter Fleur East kicked off a solo career with her debut, 2015's Love, Sax & Flashbacks, a soulful blend of R&B and dance-pop similar to Rita Ora and Fifth Harmony and influenced by Michael Jackson and Rihanna.
Emerging from Walthamstow, East actually made two appearances on the reality singing competition. Her first showing occurred in 2005 as part of the girl group Addictiv Ladies. Despite an early elimination, she stuck to music and would make another X Factor attempt a decade later. In the meantime, she attended Queen Mary University in London, studying journalism and contemporary history. She signed with Strictly Rhythm in 2012 and released the She EP, which included covers of Frank Ocean and Lorde. On season 11 of The X Factor, East placed second to winner Ben Haenow, performing a notable rendition of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' ubiquitous 2015 hit "Uptown Funk." After the show's conclusion, she signed with Simon Cowell's Syco Music label and began recording her first full-length album. Late 2015 saw the release of the U.K. Top Three lead single "Sax," a horn-heavy throwback combination of peak-era Michael Jackson and "Uptown" funk. Her debut, Love, Sax & Flashbacks, was released in December of that year and peaked in the Top 20 throughout the U.K. Soon after, East signed with Columbia Records.
Before the release of her follow-up, she starred on a reality television show, which ended just as East released the first single from her sophomore album, "Favourite Thing." ~ Neil Z. Yeung