After narrowly missing out on the final stages of 2003's Pop Idol, U.K. R&B singer Jodie Connor became a regular chart presence seven years later, becoming one of the few female artists to occupy the same grime-pop scene as Tinie Tempah, Labrinth, and Chipmunk. Born in Oldham, Manchester, Connor, inspired by the likes of Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Alicia Keys, competed in various talent contests across the North West of England before entering the second series of the hit Simon Cowell show. After making it through to the wildcard stages, she was denied a place in the finals by eventual Top Five finishers Susanne Manning and Sam Nixon, but was later taken under the wing of Soul II Soul's Jazzie B., who helped her to develop her vocal and songwriting abilities. After a brief stint in a girl band, she enlisted producer Dawood and the self-proclaimed Godfather of Grime, Wiley, to work on various tracks, one of which, "Good Times," later ended up being a number one single for her and East London collective Roll Deep. After the single's success, and appearances on hits for Tinchy Stryder ("In My System") and Wiley ("Electric Boogaloo"), she gave up her day job at the Youth Offending Services, helping families deal with drugs and alcohol problems, and landed a deal with Polydor Records. The first woman to sign with management company Takeover Entertainment, which had recently sealed a deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation, Connor flew to America to work with established songwriters Makeba Riddick (Beyoncé, Rihanna) and James Fauntleroy (Leona Lewis, Ciara). After appearing at the Glastonbury, Wireless, and Wakestock festivals with Roll Deep, performing on the Clubland and MOBO Award tours, and supporting Diddy-Dirty Money at his U.K. shows, Connor released her debut single, "Now or Never," in 2011.