Alesha Dixon: Everyday superstar
PUBLISHED: 15:34 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013
Former Mis-Teeq singer, Alesha Dixon talks to Brian Claridge about her career, life at home in Welwyn Garden City and her plans for the future
ALESHA Dixon has every reason to be pleased with the way her career has taken off. She achieved chart success at the end of last year with her smash hit, 'The Boy Does Nothing' taken from her album 'The Alesha Show' and her new single, 'Breathe Slow', is also destined for the charts. Apart from her music, she has a role in a forthcoming movie and is developing ideas for TV documentaries via her own production company.
Viewers to BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing will remember the 30-year-old singer's winning performance two years ago when she won the contest with dance partner, 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 I've ever done.'
'Some of the stuff that gets written about me is laughable especially when you read that you're dating someone you've never even spoken to'
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 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.
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 titled 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 and became 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, however not before releasing their Greatest Hits album in March 2005.
'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.'
'I set out to find out whether men like women just as they are or should ladies look like the airbrushed lovelies in magazines'
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 many television programmes.
Her latest venture is to act in a film called Milestones. 'I'm really excited about it,' she says. 'I play a singer named Serena and the film revolves around the London jazz scene. I get to write the song that I perform in the film and I'm looking foward to working on it.'
It's not just films that Alesha has turned her hand to. She made a documentary for the BBC about the world of photo-retouching where she explored whether air-brushed photos in magazines are a celebration of the female form or damaging to women's opinions of themselves. 'I set out to find out whether men like women just as they are or should ladies look like the airbrushed lovelies in men's and women's magazines.'
Her interest in documentary making made her set up her own TV production company, White Bear Productions. 'We're developing a number of ideas at present including some one-off documentaries that examine social issues, such as domestic violence, homelessness and anorexia. I'm really excited about the projects we're working on as I like to get out and question people and make the public aware of important issues.'
In the summer of 2005, Alesha married MC Harvey, formerly of UK garage group, So Solid Crew, 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 Alesha's. 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 hasn't dated. 'Some of the stuff that gets written about me is laughable especially when you read that you're dating someone you've never even spoken to. Luckily I'm one of those people who doesn't take any notice and can move on very quickly.' Is she dating anyone at present? 'I don't have time!' she laughs. 'I'm so busy with my work, I can't remember the last time I had a day off.'
For someone in the media spotlight, Alesha counts her blessings that she isn't fodder for the paparazzi. 'I am quite boring for them as they usually concentrate on artists that are rebels which I'm not. The only time I had journalists camp on my doorstep was when Harvey had the affair. Since then I've 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.'
'When I do get time, I like to chill out on
the sofa at home and watch Friends, Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City'
With an enviable figure on a 5ft 8in frame, it comes as somewhat of a surprise when Alesha confesses that she has never been on a diet. 'I eat what I want when I want,' she admits. 'I've never been on a diet and believe in everything in moderation. I prefer to eat healthy food, however, if I want to go out for a pizza or have a bar of chocolate, I don't worry about it. I like to exercise whenever I can and don't have a set regime. If I am going on tour and need a lot of stamina, I will put in a bit of training. I did a three mile run for breast cancer last year and also competed in a six mile run for Help a London Child. I am conscious about weight, but it's not something I'm obsessed with. I am what I am and accept it.'
On her nights off, Alesha enjoys going to the theatre and cinema and trying out new restaurants. 'There's never enough time in the day to do normal things like food shopping, getting my nails done and seeing friends as I'm always working. When I do get time, I like to chill out on the sofa at home and watch Friends, Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City.' Alesha enjoys cooking, particularly Jamaican food, her specialities being curry goat and jerk chicken. 'I enjoy cooking for my family while watching the telly and enjoying a glass of wine. Hope that doesn't make me sound too old?' she laughs.
Alesha is 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 who lives in a spacious four-bedroom house near Welwyn Garden City with her border collie dog, Roxy, which she got from the RSPCA. 'My cousin has rented one of the rooms and the other two bedrooms are taken up with my clothes,' she adds.
Although her feet hardly touch the ground at present, Alesha is keen to settle down and have children. 'I'd love to have kids, although it's impossible to put a time frame on things like that, especially in my business. When I was younger I said I would have children by the age of 27, however, I take each day as it comes. I'm sure I'll meet the right man one day!' With her stunning looks and engaging personality, it's surely only a matter of time.