Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong (born 25 December 1971), known professionally as Dido (/ˈdaɪdoʊ/), is an English singer and songwriter. Dido attained international success with her debut album No Angel (1999). It sold over 21 million copies worldwide, and won several awards, including the MTV Europe Music Award for Best New Act, two NRJ Awards for Best New Act and Best Album, and two Brit Awards for Best British Female and Best Album. Her next album, Life for Rent (2003), continued her success with the hit singles "White Flag" and "Life for Rent". In 2004 Dido performed with other British and Irish artists in the Band Aid 20 version of the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?".
Dido's first two albums are among the best-selling albums in UK Chart history, and both are in the top 10 best-selling albums of the 2000s in the UK. Her third studio album, Safe Trip Home (2008), received critical acclaim but failed to duplicate the commercial success of her previous efforts. She was nominated for an Academy Award for the song "If I Rise". Dido was ranked No. 98 on the Billboard chart of the top Billboard 200 artists of the 2000s (2000-2009) based on the success of her albums in the first decade of the 21st century. Dido made a comeback in 2013, releasing her fourth studio album Girl Who Got Away, which reached the Top 5 in the United Kingdom.Dido was born at St Mary Abbots hospital in Kensington, London, on Christmas Day 1971. On her birth certificate, her name was registered as Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong. Because she was born on Christmas Day, she also celebrates an "official birthday" on 25 June, following the example of Paddington Bear. Her mother, Clare (née Collins), is a poet of French ancestry, and her father, William O'Malley Armstrong (1938-2006), was an Irish publisher and former managing director of Sidgwick & Jackson. Her elder brother, Rowland Constantine O'Malley Armstrong, is better known as record producer Rollo, part of the British electronica trio Faithless. Despite their birth names, the pair were known from childhood by the names Dido and Rollo and Dido considers this as her real name, and not simply a stage name or nickname. As a child, she had to deal with her birth name's ambiguous and unusual nature, which led to her being bullied and even to her pretending to have an ordinary name. As she explains:
To be called one thing and christened another is actually very confusing and annoying. It's one of the most irritating things that my parents did to me. ... Florian is a German man's name. That's just mean. To give your child a whole lot of odd names. They were all so embarrassing. ... I thought it was cruel to call me Dido and then expect me to just deal with it.— Dido, Interview published in The Observer in 2001
The name "Dido" derives from the mythical Queen of Carthage.
Dido was educated at Thornhill Primary School in Islington, Dallington School, City of London Girls' and Westminster School where she was taught by the contemporary musician and Head of Academic Music, Sinan Savaskan. After she stole a recorder from school at the age of five, her parents enrolled her at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. By the time she reached her teens she had learned to play the piano, recorder and the violin. She later studied law at Birkbeck, University of London, while working as a literary agent. She never completed the degree, deciding instead to take up music full-time. After learning the guitar, she showcased her skills to audiences during her 2004 Life for Rent tour.
1995-96: Early recordings and early years
In 1995, Dido began recording 10 demo tracks which were put together on a collection entitled Odds & Ends and sent out by Nettwerk management. Nettwerk had signed her after she was brought to their attention by her collaborations with Faithless, the UK dance act spearheaded by her brother, Rollo Armstrong (Dido co-wrote and provided vocals for album tracks, such as "Flowerstand Man" and "Hem of His Garment"). The collection was released by Nettwerk on CD-R acetate in 1995 and featured a mixture of finished productions and demo versions which she later considered for release on her 1999 debut album, No Angel. Odds & Ends brought her to the attention of A&R Peter Edge at Arista Records, who signed her in the US in late 1996, and negotiated a co-sign deal with her brother's independent record label, Cheeky Records. Of the tracks included on Odds & Ends, "Take My Hand" was included on all editions of No Angel as a bonus track; "Sweet Eyed Baby" was remixed and renamed to "Don't Think of Me", while "Worthless" and "Me" were released exclusively on the Japanese edition. Peter Leak became Dido's manager during the recording of No Angel after Edge played some of the in-progress recordings and been "blown away" by them.
1998-2002: No Angel and breakthrough
Cheeky Records, to which Dido was signed, was sold to BMG records in 1999. This delayed the release of the album No Angel in the United Kingdom, but also allowed her to concentrate on promoting No Angel in the United States, including a slot on Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair tour. Through touring, both before and after the album was available, Dido's music began to receive more exposure. The first official single chosen by Dido and her label, "Here with Me", initially struggled to make an impact on radio, but while the label were considering switching to an alternative track, the song made a breakthrough as a result of its use in television program Roswell. The song was used as the theme music of the show, but it was actually when it was played in its entirety during the season finale that it really made an impact with audiences. Manager Peter Leak told HitQuarters that sales jumped from 2,000 to 9,000 units during the week of the show's transmission. Arguably it was this, as well as the airplay on MTV throughout Europe of the single's video, which brought her mass attention. Subsequently, the song was used in a British romantic comedy Love Actually. In 1998, the music producer for the film Sliding Doors picked her track "Thank You" for the soundtrack. No Angel was first released in 1999, and Dido toured extensively to promote the record.
American rapper Eminem helped introduce Dido to a US audience in 2001 when he received permission from Dido herself to sample the first verse of "Thank You" in his hit single "Stan". Dido also appeared in the music video as Stan's pregnant girlfriend. She did not want to do the video at first, as she was uncomfortable with the scene in the video where she had to be tied up and have her mouth covered with duct tape, but later agreed to it and got along well with Eminem and the crew on set. In North America, the video usually aired with the trunk scene censored. Interest soared in her debut album, leading it to hit charts in Europe on import sales alone, charting in the top five on the UK Albums Chart before its official UK re-release. "Thank You" was also sampled by the Airheadz in their trance track "Stanley Here I Am" originally as a bootleg, but later entering the UK Top 40 in April 2001.
No Angel went on to become the top-selling album of 2001 worldwide, debuting at, and returning to, number one in the official UK albums chart many times throughout the year. It spawned two Top Ten hit singles, "Here with Me" and "Thank You", a further Top Twenty hit, "Hunter" and a fourth and final single release "All You Want" which reached the top 25. It was certified platinum in over thirty-five countries, and is estimated to have sold over 21 million copies worldwide. Dido's widely emulated hairstyle at this time became known as the "Dido flip". Her sold-out worldwide tour featured hip-hop artist Pete Miser as her live band's DJ. No Angel claimed No. 97 according to the Decade-end album chart by Billboard.
2003-05: Life for Rent and Live 8
Life for Rent was released in 2003. Preceded by the hit single "White Flag", the album sold over 152,000 copies in the first day alone in the UK, and went on to sell over 400,000 in the first week. Three further singles—"Life for Rent", "Don't Leave Home" and "Sand in My Shoes"—were lifted from the album, with Dido embarking on a worldwide tour in support of the album (a DVD of footage from the tour was released in 2005 entitled Live at Brixton Academy). It is the 4th biggest selling album of the 21st century in the UK.
Following her sold-out world tour of 2004, Dido was asked to perform at three of the Live 8 concerts on 2 July 2005—performing in London, then at the Eden Project in Cornwall, before flying over to Paris, performing both solo ("White Flag") and duetting with Youssou N'Dour ("Thank You" and "Seven Seconds").
Also in 2005, Dido provided vocals for her brother's side project Dusted on the album Safe from Harm. She sings on the tracks: "Time Takes Time", "Hurt U" and "Winter" and she co-wrote three tracks on the album: "Always Remember to Respect & Honour Your Mother, Part 1", "The Biggest Fool in the World" and "Winter".
2006-08: Safe Trip Home and hiatus
Dido's third album, Safe Trip Home, was released in November 2008. The album, which Dido began work on in October 2005, was produced by Jon Brion and Dido herself and features contributions from Brian Eno, Questlove, Mick Fleetwood, Rollo Armstrong, and Matt Chamberlain. Recording sessions were held at London's Abbey Road and at Jon Brion's home studio in Los Angeles. During production of the album, Dido attended evening classes in music and English at the University of California, Los Angeles. The first single from the album, "Don't Believe in Love", was released in October 2008, and a track titled "Look No Further" was made available to download from her official website for a limited time. The album failed to sell as well as No Angel or Life for Rent, and Dido opted not to tour in support of the album due to her difficulties with performing the material that was written about the death of her father. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
In December 2008, Dido's Safe Trip Home song "Let's Do the Things We Normally Do", was criticised by Gregory Campbell, MP for East Londonderry and Minister for Sports, Arts and Leisure for Northern Ireland, for referencing lyrics from a song, "The Men Behind the Wire", which was written in the aftermath of the introduction of detention without trial for persons accused of being members of paramilitary groups. Campbell described "The Men Behind the Wire" as "written about people who were murderers, arsonists and terrorists", and suggested "she should clarify her position so that her fans and the wider public knows where she stands on these things". The album's artwork features a photograph of astronaut Bruce McCandless II during a spacewalk, as part of space shuttle mission STS-41-B; McCandless sued Dido, Sony Music Entertainment, and Getty Images Inc for unauthorised use of this photo in September 2010. The case was settled under undisclosed terms on 14 January 2011.
2009-present: Girl Who Got Away, Greatest Hits and fifth album
Shortly after the release of Safe Trip Home, Dido returned to the studio to start recording new material for inclusion on her fourth studio album. In July 2009, Dido said that the album would have an electronic approach, in an attempt to take it in a totally different direction to her previous albums. In September 2010, Dido released the single "Everything to Lose" via digital download, following its appearance on the soundtrack of the film Sex and the City 2 (released in May 2010).
In January 2011, Dido released "If I Rise", a collaboration with producer A.R. Rahman, for which an official music video was released. "If I Rise" was written for 127 Hours, a thriller film directed by Danny Boyle. The soundtrack features a mix of electric guitars with orchestral arrangements and sound loops, and "If I Rise" is featured in the climax of the film. The song was nominated for Satellite Award, Houston Film Critics Society Awards and Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award, as well as the 83rd Academy Award for Original Song. It won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Song.
Dido's fourth album, Girl Who Got Away, was released by Sony Music Entertainment in March 2013. "No Freedom" was released as the album's lead single in January 2013. The album was recorded in London and California and features production from Rollo Armstrong, Sister Bliss, Lester Mendez, A. R. Rahman, Rick Nowels, Greg Kurstin, Brian Eno, and Jeff Bhasker. Dido appeared on the second series of televised singing competition The Voice UK in May 2013, serving as an advisor to coach Danny O'Donoghue during the show's battle rounds.
In November 2013, Dido released the album Greatest Hits, a compilation of previous material and remixes that also included a new track, "NYC". The release of Greatest Hits completed Dido's contractual obligations with RCA Records, and she spoke of her plans to release her music independently. By late 2013, she was writing material for a fifth studio album.
2018-present: Upcoming fifth album
Dido has signed to BMG to release her fifth album in early 2019. Among her collaborators are Rollo Armstrong, Brian Eno and Ryan Louder.
In addition to her solo work, Dido has co-written and provided vocals for tracks with Faithless, including "One Step Too Far"—which was released in the UK as a limited edition single, where it debuted at number six—and "No Roots", the title track of the fourth Faithless album. Rollo—Dido's brother—co-writes and co-produces much of Dido's solo material, including many tracks on No Angel, Life for Rent and Safe Trip Home.
She provided guest vocals for each of the six studio albums by Faithless, from 1996's Reverence to 2010s The Dance. Dido worked with her brother on a CD to accompany the children's book he wrote with Jason White, Safe from Harm; the CD is also titled Safe from Harm and the artist is listed as "Dusted". She co-wrote Britney Spears's worldwide number one hit "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman", soundtrack feature track to Spears's first major film debut, and co-wrote the song "Never Ending" on Rihanna's 2016 album Anti. Dido's song "Thank You" was also sampled by Rihanna for "Never Ending".
Dido has provided guest vocals to tracks by other artists including "Feels Like Fire" for Carlos Santana's 2002 album, Shaman, and a duet with Rufus Wainwright entitled "I Eat Dinner (When the Hunger's Gone)" for the Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason film soundtrack. A sample of the Dido track "Do You Have a Little Time" is used on the song "Don't You Trust Me?" by Tupac, on the album "Loyal to the Game", which was almost entirely produced by Eminem in 2004.
Dido joined Annie Lennox and 21 other female artists to raise awareness of the issue of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to unborn children in Africa. The collaborative single "Sing" was released on World Aids Day on 1 December 2007, in conjunction with Lennox's appearance at the Nelson Mandela 46664 concert in South Africa.
After releasing No Angel in 1999, and after much time spent promoting the album, Dido broke up with her fiancé, entertainment lawyer Bob Page, after a seven-year relationship. Dido married Rohan Gavin in 2010. They have one son, Stanley, who was born in July 2011. Dido says she is a "diehard" lifelong supporter of Premier League football club Arsenal F.C.
DiscographyMain article: Dido discography
- No Angel (1999)
- Life for Rent (2003)
- Safe Trip Home (2008)
- Girl Who Got Away (2013)
- TBA (2019)
Awards and nominationsMain article: List of awards and nominations received by Dido