Gabriella Lucia Cilmi (born 10 October 1991) is an Australian singer-songwriter. In 2008, Cilmi was awarded six ARIA Music Awards, including Single of the Year and Best Female Artist. Her debut album, Lessons to Be Learned, was released in March 2008, becoming a moderate international success. Her second studio album, Ten, was released in March 2010. Her third studio album, The Sting, is set to be released in November 2013.
Gabriella Cilmi was born in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong. Of Italian and Albanian heritage, she moved to London with her family when she was fifteen, where she currently lives with her parents Paula and Joe (whose origins are in Calabria and Sicily, Italy) and her brother Joseph.
At an early age, Cilmi developed an interest in a wide range of pop music acts, including Nina Simone, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, The Sweet, T. Rex and Cat Stevens. She has also cited Suzi Quatro as a particular influence. Despite her natural aptitude and vocal talent, Cilmi was told that she lacked the discipline necessary to pursue a singing career. Idolising Janis Joplin, during this time she sang with a band (Foucault) covering songs by Led Zeppelin, Jet, Silverchair and others. Cilmi recorded original songs with writer/producers Barbara and Adrian Hannan of The SongStore.
In 2004, Cilmi captured the attention of Warner Music executive Michael Parisi while giving an impromptu rendition of the Rolling Stones' song "Jumpin' Jack Flash" at the Lygon Street Festa, a community festival in Melbourne. At the age of 13, Cilmi travelled to the US and UK with Adrian Hannan and was offered four major US deals. She eventually signed a contract with Island Records UK.
Cilmi's first album, Lessons to Be Learned, was written and recorded with hit production team Xenomania and was released in March 2008 in the UK. Cilmi has been compared to Amy Winehouse. The first single, "Sweet About Me", debuted on the UK Singles Chart that month and climbed to number six three months later, in June. It reached number seventeen on the Irish Singles Chart, and peaked at number one on the Australian ARIA Singles Chart. The song was used in a worldwide advertising campaign for the deodorant Sure/Rexona. Cilmi's second UK single, "Save the Lies", was not as successful as "Sweet About Me", peaking at number thirty-three in the UK. In Australia, the second single from the album was "Don't Wanna Go to Bed Now", which reached number twenty-eight. The subsequent single, "Sanctuary", was issued in November 2008 and failed to chart.
The lead single of Gabriella Cilmi's Ten is "On a Mission". It was released on 5 February 2010 in Australia and on 7 March 2010 in Europe. As soon as the song was broadcast on Australian radios, it reached number-one most added track to Australian radio in its second week of release, getting played 296 times. The song reached number 9 on the UK Singles Chart and number sixteen in Australia.
The new album Ten was planned for 22 March 2010 and Cilmi said it would feature "lots of uptempo funk and disco-inspired numbers designed to make people groove", referring to "On a Mission", "Hearts Don't Lie", and "Love Me Cos", as well as "some more sexy tracks" probably referring to "Superhot" and "Invisible Girl". The song "Boys" incorporates a type of yodel into it. The song "Let Me Know" is described as the "Lessons To Be Learned-ish" song of the album.
It also features a new version of "Sweet About Me", with some disco/electronic style to show her music has changed.
While producing the album, Cilmi worked with Greg Kurstin, The Invisible Men and Dallas Austin, as well as Xenomania. She made her debuts in producing songs with the track "Love Me Cos", she says the song she is most proud of due to the fact it was produced with her band. It features production from Xenomania, Dallas Austin and Greg Kurstin, and bears an electropop sound in contrast to her first album, which had more of a pop/rock style.
By October 2010, Cilmi had already begun work on her third studio album. She has been quoted as saying: "It's totally exciting because I am spending a bit more time with this record. I want to see what works. I really love Dolly Parton, roots music, Tricky and Enya, so anything could happen."
On 20 January 2012, Cilmi released an acoustic version of a song from her album, "Vicious Love". It is played in a clip video where she sings with her band and walks around an Italian restaurant with sunglasses. Two days after the broadcast, she says: "This is an 'Acoustic-ish' version of a tune that will be on the new record, one that I love very much". The song has blues influences, contrasting the disco-inspired pop sound of Ten. Cilmi claims she felt pressured into adopting a more sexual image, which prompted her to part ways with Island Records and her management team. She also told the Herald Sun that the lacklustre commercial reception of her second album, Ten, taught her not to compromise herself or her music: "It was an awakening for me to realise the position I am in to make the record that I want to make and just stand up for myself."
On 22 January 2012, Cilmi explained how the song "Vicious Love" was inspired. She states: "If you've ever experienced any type of 'Vicious Love' you will know that sometimes despite all the arrows pointing to a dead end there is just no way out, there is no way back. But then again don't all roads lead to dead ends? Guess we should just enjoy the ride…"
In March 2013, Cilmi first performed "Sweet About Me", as well as two new songs "Come Wander With Me" and "Sweeter in History", at the Moxafrica Festival. On 15 March, the clip from her new single "Sweeter in History", is shown on her YouTube page. It was shot in Italy, precisely in Cassino and Valvori, Lazio. In July 2013, Cilmi announced a new track called "The Sting", released on 2 September as the album's lead single. The artwork of the single was revealed on 15 July 2013, picturing Cilmi in black and white, in front of a flower field. Cilmi's third studio album, The Sting, will be released on 4 November 2013 on her own UK-based imprint Sweetness Tunes, in association with Absolute Marketing & Distribution."Symmetry" is set to be released on 11 November as the album's second single.