Florence Leontine Mary Welch is a famous English musician, songwriter, singer, and producer best known as vocalist and songwriter of indie rock band ‘Florence and the Machine.’ Exposed to art and music from childhood, Florence was associated with a couple of musical bands as a teenager before forming the ‘Florence and the Machine’ band with art-school friend Isabella Summers. Her career reached new heights when the band’s first album, ‘Lungs,’ debuted at #2 on the UK Albums Chart and eventually reached at the top. The album received the ‘Brit Award’ for ‘Best British Album.’ The success story continued with the second album of the band called ‘Ceremonials,’ which debuted at #1 in the UK, and the third album ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,’ which achieved top rankings in the UK and US charts. Florence has gathered a devoted cult following and huge audience base, which includes notable personalities like Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Adele, and Beyoncé.
Childhood & Early Life
Florence was born on August 28, 1986, in Camberwell, London, England, to advertising executive Nick Russell Welch and his American emigrant wife, Evelyn Kathleen Welch. Her mother is a scholar of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period and serves at the King’s College, London, as Professor of Renaissance Studies, Provost, and Senior Vice President (Arts & Sciences). Florence holds the citizenship of both America and the UK through her mother.
Her paternal grandmother, Sybil Welch, (née Russell) motivated her to take forward her performing and singing talent. Florence displayed her singing talent quite early while performing at family weddings and funerals.
She went through a tough time following the divorce of her parents and the eventual marriage of her mother to their next-door neighbour. Her grandmother also died around the same time. Such circumstances took a toll on her and she took to drinking and doing wild stuff, including going to wild parties.
She attended Thomas's London Day School and thereafter Alleyn's School, South East London. She was diagnosed with mild dyslexia because of dyspraxia that caused coordination issues for her. This made the shy and sensitive girl feel different from others and she took refuge in books.
She enrolled at the Camberwell College of Arts, but dropped out in the middle to concentrate on her musical pursuits.
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Florence mentioned that she and her art-school friend Isabella Summers made music together and jokingly and privately named the band ‘Florence + the Machine’ which eventually got out of hand.
She thought using the name ‘Florence Robot/Isa Machine' just an hour before performing her first gig but then dropped it as it would become too big. The name was then jointly used by her and Isabella while they performed together at small venues in London in 2006, and started garnering attention.
While studying at the ‘Camberwell College of Arts,’ Florence became associated with the band ‘Ashok’ that fused Gypsy (Rom) jazz with hip-hop. She recorded with the band in 2007 and that was their first and the only album ‘Plans.’ Her hit song titled ‘Kiss with a Fist’ appeared with the same lyrics for the first time in ‘Plans’ under the name ‘Happy Slap.’
The band, ‘Florence and the Machine,’ was formed in 2007, in London with Florence as the vocalist and songwriter.
On July 3, 2009, the debut studio album of ‘Florence and the Machine’ titled ‘Lungs’ was released in the UK by ‘Island Records.’ It debuted at #2 on the UK Albums Chart and after staying in the top 40 of the chart for 28 consecutive weeks, it peaked at number one on January 17, 2010. It also clinched the numero uno position on the ‘Billboard Heatseekers Albums’ chart and peaked at #3 on the ‘US Top Rock Albums’ (Billboard) chart.
In 2009, ‘Lungs,’ which included several popular tracks like ‘You've Got the Love’ and ‘Kiss with a Fist’, was shortlisted for the ‘Mercury Prize’ and received the ‘British Album of the Year’ award at the ‘Brit Awards.’ The album highlighted her remarkable vocal skills and she was compared with artists like Björk, Kate Bush, and PJ Harvey. The band’s successful mix of string arrangements established it as an internationally successful rock act. ‘Lungs’ received several multi-platinum certifications, including a 5× Platinum certification from British Recorded Music Industry.
She sang Dido’s portion of ‘If I Rise’ along with A. R. Rahman at the 83rd Academy Awards on February 27, 2011.
On October 28, 2011, the band released its second album, ‘Ceremonials,’ on Island Records. It debuted on the top of several charts, including the UK Albums Chart. It also peaked at #6 on the US Billboard 200. The album garnered nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, while its official lead single ‘Shake It Out,’ released earlier on September 2011, received nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award at the event.
‘Spectrum (Say My Name)’, a remix version of ‘Spectrum,’ a song of ‘Ceremonials’ remixed by Scottish DJ Calvin Harris became the first single of the band torank number one on the UK Singles Chart.
Florence’s fame increased further with the third studio album of ‘Florence and the Machine’ titled ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ that released on May 29, 2015. The album received five Grammy Award nominations and was shortlisted for Mercury Prize in 2015. It debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart and also peaked atop the US Billboard 200, US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard) and US Top Rock Albums (Billboard) charts. The band headlined the Glastonbury Festival for the first time on June 26 that year.
On June 29, 2018, the fourth studio album of the band ‘High as Hope’ was released.
Florence also recorded the song ‘Hey Girl’ with Lady Gaga and that was included in the fifth studio album of the latter titled ‘Joanne’ (2016). She made a cameo appearance in the film ‘Song to Song’ (2017) and contributed to the song, ‘To Be Human,’ to soundtrack of the film, ‘Wonder Woman,’ in May 2017.
Florence released her first book ‘Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry,’ in July 2018. It is a collection of lyrics and poems written by her along with illustrations.
She is an avid reader and actively takes part in 'Between Two Books,' a fan-run book club. She is influenced by authors like David Vann and Kirsten Reed and poets like Ted Hughes.
Florence doesn’t follow any particular religion.