It seems that success was always on the cards for Ellie Goulding. From an early age, she displayed a precocious skill for the medium, taking up the clarinet at the age of nine and the guitar at fourteen. As she grew into an accomplished musician and singer-songwriter, it wasn’t long before the talent agencies and the record labels came calling. A combination of her unique musical style, a willingness to collaborate with fellow musicians, a tireless touring schedule and a clever marketing strategy would eventually propel Ellie Goulding to her position as one of the most recognizable, influential and successful female musicians today.
Ellie Goulding was born in the English cathedral city of Hereford. She was given the name Elena Jane Goulding. Ellie was one of four children born to Arthur and Tracy Goulding. She has two sisters and a brother. Her father was an undertaker and her mother worked in a supermarket. Ellie and her siblings were raised in the village of Kington, Herefordshire.
When Ellie was five years old, her parents separated and Ellie and her siblings stayed with her mother Tracy. Tracy later remarried a truck driver who Ellie would later describe as ‘horrible’. “He just wasn’t very nice to us,” she told reporters. The singer would later make headlines when she told a newspaper that she would punch him in the face if she ever saw him again.
Ellie attended the Lady Hawkins’ High School in the village of Kington. She had shown an interest in music from an early age, taking up the clarinet at the age of nine. By the age of fourteen she was playing the guitar and singing. This interest in music led her to land the role of the Scarecrow in her high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
Ellie started songwriting at the age of fifteen. The confident young woman decided to enter a singing competition at the Hereford Sixth Form College where she went to study for her A Levels. She won the competition with ease.
After finishing her secondary education, Goulding enrolled at the University of Kent, studying Drama, Politics and English. She was soon introduced to the electronic music scene that would come to define her musical style, and began to make a name for herself around the campus. She entered a talent contest while at university, and it was during that that she was spotted by Jamie Lillywhite of the Turn First Artists agency. Lillywhite persuaded Goulding to perform for Turn First’s head, Sarah Stennett, who was so impressed with the young woman that she agreed to sign her up.
Ellie was persuaded to leave university and move to London, all at the agency’s expense. She was moved to a flat in West London, and Lillywhite was appointed her manager. He introduced the young musician to producer Starsmith, who the young Goulding would collaborate with on her first album, Lights.
Goulding began as many artists of the modern era begin – putting her songs and performances up on YouTube. It wasn’t long before she’d caught the attention of the burgeoning blogging community, and that led to wider exposure when newspapers like The Guardian began writing about her. The young singer-songwriter was on the cusp of a career that would turn her into a global superstar.
Goulding signed to Polydor Records in 2009. A strategy was developed by the record company that would be in keeping with the times, releasing her first single ‘Under the Sheets’ digitally via a small independent record company called Neon Gold Records. The single reached number fifty-three on the UK Singles Chart, mostly off the back of Goulding’s appearance on the BBC music show, Later … with Jools Holland where she also performed her song ‘Guns and Horses’.
Goulding’s next single, 2009’s ‘Wish I Stayed’, was released as a free download on the iTunes store as their ‘Single of the Week’ and was a modest success.
Goulding was well on her way. In 2010, she won the BBC Sound of 2010′ poll. This was an industry poll which asked key figures in the music industry for their pick of the rising stars of the year. Goulding was their top choice. Also in 2010, Goulding won the Critics’ Choice Award at that year’s Brit Awards.
As her profile began to rise, Ellie began collaborating with many of the artists who were around at the time. She co-wrote ‘Love Me ‘Cause You Want To’ with Gabriella Cilmi. The song appeared on Cilmi’s second album, Ten. She also contributed three songs to Diana Vickers’ album, Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree, and was a featured artist on rap star Tinie Temper’s debut studio album, Disc-Overy.
2010 saw the release of Goulding’s debut studio album, Lights. The album was a huge success, rocketing to number one in the UK Singles Chart. Three singles were released from the album, ‘Starry Eyed’, ‘Guns and Horses’ and ‘The Writer’, which reached numbers four, twenty-six and nineteen respectively. A re-released version of Lights, titled Bright Lights with six additional songs including a cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ appeared towards the end of 2010, and the single ‘Lights’ charted at number two in the United States in the Billboard Hot 100.
Unusually, several of the tracks from ‘Lights’ were remixed by Goulding and released as the EP Run into the Light. The EP was sponsored by Nike and was aimed at the running community. Goulding has been a keen runner since the age of eighteen, and wanted her music to become a firm favourite of the running community.
Following a successful tour of Lights, Goulding released a live recording of her performance at the iTunes Festival in 2010. She was also asked to be the opening act for the Irish rock band U2 on their U2 360 Tour. She opened for the band in Zurich, Vienna and Munich.
In 2011, she contributed an original song to the movie, Life in a Day, and in April of that year she made her debut at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California. As her status grew brighter, she made her US TV debut singing her single ‘Starry Eyed’ on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and was the guest performer on the satirical comedy show, Saturday Night Live. She was also asked to perform at the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
2011 was a busy year for Goulding. She headlined the Wakestock festival in Wales, contributed a song to the American musician Skrillex’s EP Bangarang, performed at Lollapalooza in Chicago, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, and was even invited to perform at the White House at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. She also began work on her second album.
Ahead of her second album, Goulding continued to collaborate with other musicians, notably on Calvin Harris’s single, ‘I Need Your Love’. She also released the single ‘Anything Could Happen’, which preceded the release of her second full studio album, Halcyon, which was released on the 5th October 2012. Halcyon received mostly favorable reviews, debuting at number two on the UK Albums Chart and number nine on the Billboard 200 in the USA.
Goulding also contributed a track to the soundtrack of the 2012 movie, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Her track, ‘Bittersweet’, was produced by Skrillex.
2013 saw the singer tour with Bruno Mars. She also embarked on her own seven-date tour, as well as performing at the RockNess festival in Inverness, Scotland, the Capital FM Summertime Ball in London and the Firefly Festival in Delaware. 2013 also saw the re-release of Halcyon, retitled as Halcyon Days. She also appeared on the soundtrack to the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with her song ‘Mirror’.
In 2014, Goulding continued to tour and release new material, notable the single ‘Goodness Gracious’ and the song ‘Beating Heart’, which was included in the soundtrack of the movie Divergent.
She also won Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2014 Brit Awards, and began work on her third studio album.
Since 2014, Goulding has continued to release music, collaborate with other musicians and perform live all around the world. Her single ‘Love Me Like You Do’ was a worldwide smash hit and featured on the soundtrack to the hit movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. The single was nominated for a Grammy award. Her third studio album, Delirium, was released on the November 6, 2015. It debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart, and at the same position on the US Billboard 200. The album was a critical and commercial success.
In 2016, the singer announced she was taking a break from music, having not had any time off for seven grueling years. Despite this, she released the single ‘Still Falling For You’, which featured on the soundtrack of the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby and the music video for her song ‘Burn’, which was the second song of hers to reach one billion views on YouTube.
In 2017, Goulding is set to hit the road again. She will play the Mawazing Festival in Rabat in May, and there are rumors of another tour and album planned for the near future.
Goulding is viewed in a relatively positive light in her home country of the United Kingdom. Her unique musical style has endeared her to not only her legions of fans, but also to some of the most cutting-edge musicians of the age, and she remains in high demand as a collaborator and songwriter.
Her cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ was used for the British department store John Lewis’s Christmas advertisement, which brought her to wide public attention. To outside observers, that her career was boosted by a TV advert sounds bizarre, but the John Lewis Christmas advertisement has established itself as somewhat of an annual tradition in the country, with many people eagerly anticipating each new seasonal installment. As a result, the songs chosen for the advert regularly top the charts and bring great attention to the singers. Goulding’s public profile was boosted as a result.
Goulding is a strict vegan and a prominent proponent of running. She is known to run six miles a day and has participated in several marathons and half marathons, including the Nike Women Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. in 2014, where she ran the race in a very respectable one hour and forty-one minutes.
The singer suffers from anxiety issues and is a prominent campaigner for greater awareness of mental health issues. She is also politically active, being a prominent supporter of the UK Labour Party. She was also an outspoken supporter of the Remain campaign during the 2016 UK European Union Referendum. When it was announced that the UK would be leaving the Union, Goulding lost some fans by tweeting that the result was a huge mistake. Fans who had voted to leave were, understandably, disappointed at her partisan attitude.
Goulding is a noted philanthropist, which has gained her a lot of support. She has competed in several charity marathons and fun runs, and is a campaigner for children’s and women’s rights. She is also a frequent contributor to the BBC’s annual Children in Need charity telethon, was one of the performers on Bob Geldof’s revamp of the 1985 charity single, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, and she also campaigns on the behalf of homeless charities.
Despite her political views, Goulding’s public image is a positive one, as one would expect from someone who does so much good work for charity.
Goulding has a had a string of high-profile relationships over the last few years. She was in a relationship with the Radio 1 DJ Greg James for eighteen months, and the couple were frequently photographed out and about in London, especially at red carpet events. Sadly, this relationship came to an end because the two spent so much time apart.
The singer next hooked up with the dubstep producer Skrillex, who Goulding has collaborated with frequently. The pair were together for a few months, eventually splitting up at the end of 2012.
Goulding moved on from Skrillex, beginning a new relationship with the War Horse actor Jeremy Irvine in November 2012. Their relationship lasted ten months, with the pair formally parting ways in 2013.
After this, she briefly had a relationship with the singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. The relationship was brief, and it was rumored that the two split because Ellie was having an affair with one of Sheeran’s friends. Another rumor circulating at the time was that Goulding was secretly dating One Direction’s Niall Horan, though the pair have always denied it, saying they were just good friends.
Rumors have dogged Goulding. At one stage, it was rumored she was dating the famous DJ Calvin Harris. The rumor was never confirmed, but it is a matter of record that it was Goulding who introduced Harris to his future girlfriend, Taylor Swift.
In 2013, Goulding began an on-off relationship with Dougie Poynter from the British boyband McFly. The two were cagey about talking about their relationship, though it was later revealed to have lasted two years.
After splitting with Poynter, it was rumored that Goulding had entered into a relationship with Prince Harry after they were spotted hanging out at a polo meet. It has never been confirmed if they were in a relationship or not.
Ellie is now in a relationship with driver and Judo champion, Bobby Rich. The two are apparently very content and Goulding plans to move in with her new boyfriend. She has hinted to newspapers that she is finally thinking about settling down and getting married. Whether this restless performer will actually do this remains to be seen.
- Ellie Goulding: Halcyon Days by Alfred Publishing
Written by: Ben Perry