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Speech Debelle
Born 1983 (age 26)
Origin London, England
Genres Rap, Hip Hop
Occupations Singer–songwriter
Instruments Vocals

Corynne Elliot (born 1983, London, England), better known as Speech Debelle,[1] is a British rapper formerly signed to the Big Dada record label.[2][3] She was the winner of the 2009 Mercury Prize.[4]


Early days

Debelle had a comfortable middle-class upbringing, describing herself as being a "spoilt brat" as a child.[2] Her father walked out on the family when she was six years old, and she was brought up by her mother.[5] She attended Harris City Academy, and was frequently suspended from school, leaving with no qualifications.[1][5] She began writing poetry aged nine, and started rapping lyrics at school at the age of 13. Back then, initial inspiration came courtesy of Michael Jackson, which quickly turned to Blackstreet, Mary J. Blige, TLC and reggae music.[3] She left home age 19 after a falling-out with her mother and lived in homeless hostels for four years.[1][2] However she states that "It's overstating it to say I was homeless - I stayed at friends' houses as well as hostels and kept in touch with my mum."[5] She returned to her mother's house age 23 and began calling record labels, eventually being signed by Big Dada records.[5]

Speech Therapy (2009)

Debelle's debut album, Speech Therapy, was released in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2009. The album has had three singles released, "Searching", "The Key", and "Go Then, Bye". In 2009, she performed at the Glastonbury Festival.[6] On 21 July 2009 Speech Therapy was announced as one of the shortlisted twelve albums for the year's Mercury Prize award.[7]

She won the 2009 Mercury Music Award with Speech Therapy beating albums from Sweet Billy Pilgrim, the Horrors, Florence and the Machine, Kasabian and Friendly Fires, among other artists.[4]

Latter Days

Despite the Mercury Prize win, sales of Speech Therapy were disappointing, with the album failing to make the top 40 and only 10,000 units sold by November 2009, in comparison to the 300,000-album sales of the 2008 winner, Elbow's The Seldom Seen Kid.[8][9] Debelle quit the Big Dada record label in November 2009, blaming them for failing to adequately market and distribute the album.[10] Her post-Mercury music gigs were sparsely attended and received mixed to poor reviews. [9][11]

Her planned US performance debut, on 5 November 2009, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had to be called off due to visa problems.[12] Later that month she was booed off the stage at a Take That event to promote their SingStar game, after attempting to rap to their 1993 hit "Pray."[13][14]

Future Releases

Debelle announced on her Facebook page on 16 October 2009 that she had begun writing new material for her next album, to be called The Art of Speech.




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