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Backup Vocalist to Queen: The Evolution of Gwen Stefani

Backup Vocalist to Queen: The Evolution of Gwen Stefani

There aren’t many female vocalists more well-known than Gwen Stefani. An icon in the music industry for almost 35 years, she collaborates with countless musicians and producers. 

We were surprised to discover that Stefani started as a backup vocalist. 

So we decided to check out more of her story. 

Let’s jump in!

Gwen Stefani’s Early Years

Gwen was born in October 1969, the second of four children. Raised in Anaheim, California, her parents exposed her to music by artists such as Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris. Her mother, Patti, taught her to sew. From an early age, Gwen had an interest in fashion.

Older brother Eric introduced her to a style of music known as 2 Tone, a fusion of Jamaican ska with punk/new wave music elements. He was a founding member and keyboardist for No Doubt, a ska band he was forming, and invited Gwen to join as a secondary vocalist in 1986.

No Doubt’s Success

After the death of lead singer John Spence in 1987, Gwen became the lead vocalist for No Doubt. Their self-titled debut album came out in 1992 amid the popularity of grunge music. It didn’t see the results they had hoped for.

Released in 1995, the group’s third album, Tragic Kingdom, took three years to make. “Don’t Speak” was one of five singles released from that album. It was nominated for a Grammy and sold over 16 million copies by 2004. While the band was finding success, Gwen wowed fans with her distinctive style borrowed from many scenes and cultures.

They released Return of Saturn in 2000, the content focusing on Gwen’s relationship with Gavin Rossdale. 2001 saw the release of Rock Steady, which explored more reggae and dancehall sounds. The album saw two singles from the album receive Grammy Awards. And in 2003, the group released The Singles 1992-2003.

Gwen Stefani Goes Solo

While No Doubt was coming into its own, Gwen was hard at work collaborating with other artists such as Moby, the Brian Seltzer Orchestra, and Eve. Rolling Stone magazine called her “the Queen of Confessional Pop” in 2000. And in 2002, Eve and Gwen won a Grammy for their collaboration on “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”

Her collaborations didn’t end there. In 2004, Gwen released her debut solo album, Love.Angel.Music.Baby. (L.A.M.B). She collaborated with Dr. Dre, Linda Perry, Pharrell Williams, and other musicians and producers. 

Using this album to modernize music she listened to in high school, she went in a different direction than No Doubt, with more of a pop sound. Her debut album saw immediate success selling 309,000 copies in the first week.

The Queen has won several awards throughout her solo career, including a Grammy, four MTV Video Music Awards, an American Music Award, a Brit Award, and two Billboard Music Awards. In 2005, Rolling Stone named her “the only true female rock star left on radio or MTV.” 

VH1 listed her at #13 out of “100 Greatest Women in Music” in 2012. And she received the Style Icon Award in 2014 at the People Magazine Awards.

Family Life with Gwen Stefani

Gwen met Gavin Rossdale in 2015, and the couple married in September 2002, and they had three sons. Stefani filed for divorce in August 2015.

In November, Gwen announced entering a relationship with country singer Blake Shelton. The two met on the set of The Voice while they were both judges. In July 2021, they wed on Blake’s Oklahoma ranch. Together they raise Gwen’s three sons on the ranch in Oklahoma and a large estate near San Fernando Valley, California.

Beyond Music

Queen Gwen has had many passions in her lifetime. Beyond her love of music, Gwen grew up enjoying fashion and makeup. These passions have led her to branch out from music in ways most singer-songwriters don’t get to. She has coached young people to find their voices and strengths. One thing’s for sure, Gwen’s talents go beyond the music.

Fashion

As stated before, Gwen learned to sew from her mother and developed a love of fashion at a young age. While front-lining No Doubt, she often made her own costumes. 

She released a fashion line in 2004 and named it L.A.M.B. This clothing line took influence from Guatemalan, Jamaican, and Japanese styles. She later launched perfume and eyewear under the L.A.M.B. label. Gwen has a few fashion lines in the works, plus at least five fragrance lines.

The Voice

Gwen joined the roster as a coach on The Voice in 2014, initially covering for Christina Aguilera during the show’s seventh season. She returned as an advisor in the eighth and tenth seasons and a coach in the ninth, 12th, and 17th seasons. 

Season 18 saw the return of Nick Jonas before Gwen stepped in to cover for him in season 19. Gwen coached her way to a victory on her fifth attempt and became the fourth female coach to do so.

Animated Series

As part of her solo journey, the Harajuku Girls are a staple as her backup dancers. In 2014, Gwen announced the production of an animated series featuring herself and the Girls. She helped create the show, which features Gwen, Love, Angel, Music, and Baby, who fight evil while trying to pursue a music career.

In 2016, she lent her voice to Trolls as DJ Suki and sang five songs for the film’s soundtrack.

Philanthropy

Following the tsunami in 2011, Gwen donated $1 million to Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund. She then ran an online auction, allowing fans to purchase vintage clothes from her personal wardrobe and t-shirts she designed, with all funds going to the children’s relief effort. 

Once these fundraising efforts were complete, she then auctioned the dress she designed and wore to the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. In one last attempt to raise money for the Children in Emergency Fund, she co-hosted a fundraiser with First Lady Michelle Obama at her home.

Where is Gwen Stefani Today?

Today, Gwen is splitting her time between Oklahoma and California, raising her sons and building her marriage to Blake.

She wrapped up her Las Vegas residency titled “Just a Girl” in 2021. In August that year, she released an EP titled Just a Girl. And in 2022, the Queen is readying herself for her sixth season as a coach on The Voice. 

Long before the music, Gwen loved makeup. So she launched a cosmetics line, GXVE (give), in addition to her clothing and accessory lines.

Queen Gwen Rules!

It seems as though nothing will slow Gwen Stefani down. Her passions have been fulfilled, from her love of makeup, fashion, and music to her desire to find a loving relationship. In addition, Queen Gwen is “Just a Girl” who empowers people across the globe. 

What are your thoughts about the No Doubt frontwoman? Let us know in the comments below.

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