Cleo Sol was born to musical parents who met in a Jazz band. Her Mum, half Serbian and Spanish, is a singer and plays the guitar and flute. Cleoâs Jamaican Dad plays the bass and piano. Cleo quickly became the singer in the family, jostling for attention amongst seven other siblings, she received a second hand karaoke player from her mum which gave her a platform to display her early talents to her musical family.
It was Stevie Wonderâs âDonât You Worry Bout a Thingâ that struck the loudest chord with Cleo as a youngster discovering music. âItâs inspirational in terms of putting together a track, the technicalities of the song, and how Stevie sounds so perfect in just one take. Thatâs how music should beâ.
Cleoâs inspirations derive from her parents musical passions, shuffling through a record collection of classics across Motown, Reggae, Latin, and Acid Jazz. Cleo developed her own taste, inspired by pop culture of the day. Akin to millions of other young girls, Cleo loved the Spice Girls, and wanted to grow up to be flame-haired Geri. These days sheâs loving House music, Ed Sheeran, Wretch 32 and Frank Ocean.
A West London girl at heart, Cleo was born and raised in Ladbroke Grove and was brought up with a strong sense of community. A regular at the annual, famous Notting Hill Carnival, Cleo is often spotted cycling around the roads of West London. The slightly cooler, more beautiful âgirl-next-doorâ, Cleo, loves fashion and she says her style is influenced by her Dadâs ârockabillyâ, mixed with grunge and 80âČs era music; âIf all else fails, itâs all about the big hair and big earringsâ, she says.
A stint at a local youth centre paired with a dedicated and motivational singing teacher came together to alter Cleoâs passion for singing from a hobby to a serious profession at the age of 16, and she began song-writing and honing her vocals on a weekly basis, later performing at monthly showcases. After reinventing herself as âCleo Solâ (the Sol paying homage to her sunny Spanish heritage) and posting a few tracks onto her MySpace page in her late teens, veteran underground producer Davinche (Kanoâs Pâs & Qâs) spotted the singer and asked her to collaborate on some tracks.
Her relationship with Davinche would prove to be instrumental in putting Cleo on the map in terms of the UK underground music scene. The partnership with Davinche led to tracks with Tinie Tempah on âTearsâ, Wretch 32âs âDancefloorâ, Davincheâs âHeroâ and âRiding for Loveâ alongside Bashy. Cleo also featured on âGive a Little Loveâ, the official Orange Rockcorps anthem alongside Roll Deep, Wretch 32 and Aggro Santos. Showing her versatility, Cleo also featured on Funky House songs âAddictedâ and âTime to Let Goâ.
Her promo tracks in 2011 âLoveBassâ and âCall for Meâ received heavy support from BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Kiss, Choice and Rinse DJs (Swerve, Trevor Nelson, Target, Manny Norte, Ace n Vis and Ronnie Herrel). âCall for Meâ was selected by Twin B as 1Xtraâs âBest of British Track of the Weekâ in early May 2011.
In addition to receiving key radio play, industry taste-makers (including ILUVLIVE, MOBO and Urban Development) began to spot Cleo, marking her as a âone to watch in 2011âČ.