Notable for being the first and probably last reggae singer to come out of Chester, England, Ava Leigh managed to win over the cynical music press thanks to the authentic sounds of her debut album. Born in 1986, Leigh (real name Hayley Carline) grew up on a musical diet of her mother's lovers rock and ska collection. At a holiday talent contest she discovered her singing abilities, so she joined the school choir and jazz band. Declining an offer from her parents to send her to stage school on the grounds she wanted to do things her own way, she soon signed a deal with 141a Management. Initially approaching record companies with an R&B sound, she soon converted to reggae after being introduced to the Abu Shanti Sound System by manager Raymond Stevenson. After meeting the A&R man who discovered Jamiroquai, she signed a deal with Virgin Records and began work on her debut album. Co-written with Nick Manasseh, Future Cut (Lily Allen), and Feng Shui, it was recorded in such diverse places as a garden shed in Glastonbury, a basement studio in Brixton, and Harry J's famous studio in Kingston, Jamaica, with Sly & Robbie. Influenced by Marcia Griffiths and Dennis Brown, Turned on Underground was released in 2008 and features the singles "La La La" and "Mad About the Boy," as well as "After Tonight," a duet with Finley Quaye.
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