PUBLISHED: 11:43 16 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:20 20 February 2013
Strictly Come Dancing sensation, Alesha Dixon, gets back to singing this month when she performs at Southend's Cliffs Pavilion. Brian Claridge learns how it all began
ALESHA Dixon has every reason to be pleased with the way her career has taken off. Emerging from the girl band Mis-Teeq, Alesha has gone on to enjoy solo success before being catapulted to stardom as the champion of the BBCs hit show Strictly Come Dancing in 2007.
This year she controversially replaced Arlene Phillips as a judge on the show and held her nerve after the BBC received more than 250 complaints following her first show accusing the channel of ageism in getting rid of Arlene.
You cant please all of the people all of the time, explains Alesha pragmatically. I am not a quitter. Its not in my nature to evenconsider quitting.
Her determination has paid off. One of seven children, Alesha was born to an English mother and Jamaican father. She has five half brothers and one half sister and was educated at Monks Walk School in Hertfordshires Welwyn Garden City. She had planned to become a PE teacher after leaving college and to take up a place at Loughborough University, however, a chance meeting with a record producer on a train soon altered her plans when she was offered a chance to sing in a band and it all took off from there.
Performing at the 2002 Golden Jubilee celebrations along with megastars such as Sir Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and Eric Clapton was an amazing highlight
In 1999 she and a friend, Sabrina Washington, joined Dance Attic, a popular hip-hop/jazz dance academy in West London. Together they formed a duo and recorded a demo entitled Inspiration. During an audition, they met with Su-Elise Nash and formed a trio. They signed to Telstar Records and took on a new member, Zena McNally, becoming the popular UK garage/R&B girl band, Mis-Teeq. After a string of hits and world tours, the band decided to pursue solo careers.
It was sad when it was all over as we got on really well, says Alesha. We achieved two platinum records, travelled the world and performed at The Brits. One of the biggest thrills for us was performing at the 2002 Golden Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace. The event was televised all over the world and it was a huge honour performing for the royal family, along with so many megastars like Sir Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. I took my mum and nan along and we had a fantastic time and got to meet the Queen and Prince Philip who were really friendly.
Away from the recording studio, Alesha has engaged in various modelling assignments and graced the covers of many glossy magazines including FHM, Arena and Company. In addition to singing and modelling, Alesha has presented various shows in the UK including the MOBO Awards, CD:UK and The Brit Awards and guested on numerous television programmes.
Alesha also made her acting debut recently in a film called Milestones and created a documentary for the BBC about the world of photo-retouching where she explored the rights and wrongs of air-brushed photos in magazines. I set out to find out whether men like women just as they are or should ladies look like the airbrushed lovelies in the magazines, Alesha explains.
Her interest in documentary making prompted Alesha to set up her own TV production company, White Bear Productions. Were developing a number of ideas at present including some one-off documentaries that examine social issues, such as domestic violence, homelessness and anorexia. Im really excited about the projects were working on as I like to get out and question people and make the public aware of important issues.
Family life is vital to Alesha and she is very close to her parents. Her mum, Beverley, lives five minutes from her in Welwyn Garden City. Her West Indies-born dad, Melvyn, separated from Beverley when Alesha was four and lives in Thailand. My parents are very important to me and I like to see them whenever I can, says Alesha.
Alesha faced her own marriage breakdown when she split from MC Harvey, formerly of UK garage group So Solid Crew. Married in the summer of 2005, after a five-year relationship, in November 2006, a national tabloid reported that Harvey had been having an alleged affair with Javine Hylton, a singer friend of Aleshas. The couple split shortly after and began divorce proceedings. The episode led to a well-publicised feud between Javine and R&B singer Jamelia.
It was a dark period of my life, however, you just have to move on and not look back, says Alesha.
Like many celebrities in the media spotlight, there has been much speculation about who Alesha has and hasnt dated. Some of the stuff that gets written about me is laughable, especially when you read that youre dating someone youve never even spoken to. Luckily Im one of those people who doesnt take any notice and can move on very quickly.
For someone in the media spotlight, Alesha counts her blessings that she isnt fodder for the paparazzi. I am quite boring for them as they usually concentrate on artists that are rebels, which Im not. When I do get time, I like to chill out on the sofa at home and watch Friends, Desperate Housewives or Sex and the City. I enjoy cooking for my family while watching the telly and enjoying a glass of wine.
Winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 was worth all the bruises, the lack of sleep and the hours of training from
The only time I had journalists camp on my doorstep was when Harvey had the affair. Since then Ive never had any problems, even during the time I was with Mis-Teeq. My personal life is private to me and I feel for artists like Britney who have the paparazzi following them all the time which must be claustrophobic.
Now Alesha is once again appearing on primetime TV, casting her critical eye over the couples competing for the Strictly Come Dancing title she won with dance partner, Chelmsfords Matthew Cutler. I was over the moon, recalls Alesha. It was worth all the bruises, the lack of sleep, the sore joints and the hours of training from ten in the morning until ten at night, however it was great fun and was one of the best things Ive ever done.