The ladies at the Rhythm and Views podcast have been celebrating women all Women’s History Month. On their March 22nd episode, they welcomed rising R&B star, Ebony Riley, to discuss her new album, thoughts on remixes and balancing being an artist and model. To finish off the episode, Niani gave a special shout out to music industry vet Ester Dean.
Oklahoma native, Ester Dean is a singer, songwriter, voice over artist and music producer who has been the secret weapon behind some of our favorite hits. She discovered her appreciation for songwriting and production in her teens, a time where she wrote for local artists. Stepping out on faith, a 20-something Dean moved from Omaha, Atlanta, and eventually Los Angeles to follow her pen-writing passion. Fast-forward to today, Dean has over 1,000 song credits across various music and film genres.
"As music listeners we tend to focus on the main singer but the magic really happens during the brainstorming part of the song and I think these songwriters deserve accolades as well" - Niani, co-host on Rhythm and Views.
As a new signee to Interscope Records, Dean released her first single, 2009’s “Drop It Low” featuring Chris Brown. The video featured cameos from Nelly, Omarion, Brandy, Keri Hilson and Teyana Taylor. A remixed version was released featuring Diddy, Lil Wayne, and Trey Songz.
In the early ’00s, Dean became someone to watch in front and behind the camera, but her big break came when she collaborated with producer duo, Stargate. An Ester Dean cover story with The New Yorker detailed their work dynamic. “The producers compose the chord progressions, program the beats, and arrange the “synths,” or computer-made instrumental sounds”. The story added, “the top-liners [singers] come up with primary melodies, lyrics, and the all-important hooks, the ear-friendly musical phrases that lock you into the song.”
Their collaboration yielded Rihanna’s “Whats My Name”, “S&M”, “Talk That Talk” and “Rude Boy”. Rihanna is just one of many esteemed artists Dean has created hits for. Katy Perry’s “Fireworks”, Nick Minaj’s “Super Bass” & “Pills N Potions”, Usher’s “Hot Tottie” are a few top charting songs of which Dean has lended her pen and production.
Dean made her acting debut in Pitch Perfect in 2012 and has reprised her role for the sequels.
In recent years, she expanded her resume to include voice acting and judging on singing competitions.
Be sure to listen to the full Rhythm and Views episode here: