Ester Dean

Ester Dean
Birth name Esther Renay Dean
Born (1982-04-15) April 15, 1982
Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2006–present
  • Eye Know A Secret
Associated acts

Esther Renay Dean[1] (born April 15, 1982), better known by her stage name Ester Dean, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Her 2009 single "Drop It Low" featured singer Chris Brown. Dean has also co-written songs for many artists including Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Nicole Scherzinger, Priyanka Chopra, Mary J. Blige, Nicki Minaj, Kelly Clarkson, Ciara, The Pussycat Dolls, Usher, Kelly Rowland, Girlicious, Keri Hilson, Rihanna, R. Kelly, Britney Spears, Melody Thornton, Vanessa White, Kevin McHale, Selena Gomez, G.R.L., Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, Little Mix, Pia Toscano, Tinie Tempah, Lil Wayne, Machine Gun Kelly and Eurovision Song Contest 2012 winner Loreen.

In 2011, Dean contributed to the soundtrack for the animated film, Rio by Blue Sky Studios.

In 2012, she voiced two of the characters in the fourth film in the Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also wrote a song for the movie, entitled "We Are (Family)". Dean made her acting debut in the film Pitch Perfect (2012) as Cynthia-Rose Adams, a role she reprised for the sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015).

Life and career

Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Dean grew up

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ester Dean was the youngest of five children raised by her single mother Hester, in a low-income household.[2][3] At a young age Dean learned how to channel her pain into her music, writing and channeling her emotions into songs. Creative writing served as Dean’s self-therapy, helping her cope with a hard life of poverty and bullying (inside and outside her home). Dean took to writing and singing as an escape from her small Oklahoma town with no glimpses of a positive future.

At the age of 15, Dean and her sister Deandria moved to Omaha, Nebraska; leaving her older siblings in Tulsa.[4] The separation made Dean dig deeper for a connection, finding solace in music and the local music scene. Singing in every studio, writing for local rappers and producers, Dean unknowingly grass-rooted herself.[4][5] Learning the ins and outs of her talent and creativity, at 20 years old Dean made a bold move and left Omaha with only $500 in her pocket. She drove 18 hours, alone, to Atlanta, Georgia with dreams of breaking into the music industry.[4] She sang for anyone who would listen. While at a Gap Band concert, music producer Tricky Stewart overheard Dean singing in the crowd along with the band.[6] He immediately asked her to set up a meeting. While going through her catalog of songs, Tricky was impressed by not only her voice but also her songwriting ability. He signed her to a small publishing deal that allowed Dean to grow and connect with other known writers and producers.[7] This opportunity provided Dean with the tools, tricks, and skills to writing potential Top 40 songs.

Although her time with Tricky was a significant point in her career, Dean eventually parted ways and relocated to Los Angeles, California.

Upon relocating to Los Angeles, Dean began to build a name in the songwriting world. She was eventually introduced to Polow da Don, and later signed to Zone 4 Records/Interscope Records.[6]

In 2009 Dean released her first single, "Drop It Low", which peaked at number 38 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming her first US Top 40 single. Dean's big break came when she collaborated with super producers Stargate, creating her first number one single, Rihanna’s "Rude Boy". She went on to write "What's My Name", "Where Have You Been" and several other Rihanna hits, as well as Katy Perry's "Firework" and Nicki Minaj’s "Super Bass".

She would go on to be named ‘The Song Machine’ in John Seabrook's The New Yorker article.[6]

Outside of music, Dean has been able to establish herself as a voice-over talent. She landed roles in Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) and Rio (2011).

After making a great impression in the voice-over world, Dean was asked to audition for a small part in an upcoming movie about a female A cappella group. She jumped at the chance to audition and landed the role of Cynthia Rose in the hit movie Pitch Perfect (2012), which also lead to her co-starring in Pitch Perfect 2 (2015).



Dean possesses a mezzo-soprano range. Her vocals were described by Billboard as "raw, energetic vocals cover a wide range: from club banger to melodic doo-wop/hip-hop."[8] Dean's vocals have also been described as similar to Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. "The songwriter's voice is pitched dead center between two artists. The first is frequent collaborator Rihanna...the other is Nicki Minaj when she sings."[9]

Songwriting style

In a 2012 article in The New Yorker, Dean described her preferred method of songwriting: "I go into the booth and I scream and I sing and I yell, and sometimes it's words but most time [sic] it's not...and I just see when I get this little chill [on her upper arm, below the shoulder] and then I'm, like, 'Yeah, that's the hook.'"[10]


Extended plays

List of extended plays, with selected chart positions, showing year released
Title Details Peak chart positions

Miss Ester Dean[11]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album

US Pop
"Drop It Low"
(featuring Chris Brown)
2009 46 38 35 More Than a Game OST
"Baby Makin' Love"[16] 2012 Non-album singles
"Bam Bam"[17]
"I Can't Make You Love Me"[18] 2013
"How You Love It"[19]
(featuring Missy Elliott)
"Get My Dough"[20] 2014
"Twerk'n 4 Birk'n"[21]
"Twerkin 4 Birkin"[22]
(featuring Juicy J)
"Crazy Youngsters" 2015 99 Pitch Perfect 2 OST
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist

List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Love Suicide"
(Tinie Tempah featuring Ester Dean)
2011 10 20 Disc-Overy
(MGK featuring Ester Dean)
[upper-alpha 1] [upper-alpha 2] 32[26] Lace Up
"We've Only Just Begun"[27]
(Michael Woods featuring Ester Dean)
2012 Non-album single
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other appearances

Year Title Album Other artist (s)
2009 "I Love U" Graffiti Chris Brown
2010 "I Know You Got a Man" Battle of the Sexes Ludacris, Flo Rida
"Grammy" The DeAndre Way Soulja Boy
2011 "Let Me Take You To Rio" Rio: Music from the Motion Picture Carlinhos Brown
"Take You To Rio" N/A
2012 "Let It Grow (Celebrate the World)" Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Original Songs from the Motion Picture N/A
"We Are (Family)" Ice Age: Continental Drift (plays during credits only) Keke Palmer, Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Heather Morris
2013 "Bad Bitches" RockaByeBaby Cassie
"Wide Open" Underground Luxury B.o.B
2014 "Rio Rio" Rio 2: Music from the Motion Picture

Music videos

Year Title Director Ref.
2009 "Drop It Low" Joseph Kahn [28]
2012 "Invincible" Isaac Rentz [29]
2014 "Baby Making Love" [30]
2015 "New Shit" [31]
"Crazy Youngsters" [32]


Year Film Role
2011 Rio Boy in Gondola (voice)
2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift Sloth Siren and Gutt's Siren (voice)
Pitch Perfect Cynthia-Rose Adams
2015 Pitch Perfect 2
2016 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Connie's client
RuPaul's Drag Race Guest Judge (season 8)


  1. "Invincible" did not enter the US Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number eight on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[25]
  2. "Invincible" did not enter the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 10 on the Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.[25]


    1. "Miss Ester Dean on Twitter".
    2. "Ester Dean Talks Debut Album & 'Pitch Perfect' Success". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
    3. "Oklahoma Today - SO12 - Melody Maker". Retrieved 2015-11-11.
    4. 1 2 3 "Interview: Ester Dean – Singer and Songwriter". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
    5. "Ester Dean: Artists To Watch 2010". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
    6. 1 2 3 "The Hit Factory". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
    7. "Ester Dean Songwriter Interview | Writing Hits for Rihanna, Katy Perry". Songwriter Universe | Songwriting News, Articles & Song Contest. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
    8. "Ester Dean: Artists To Watch 2010". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    9. "The Singles Bar: Ester Dean ft. Nicki Minaj, "Gimme Money"". Popdust. 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    10. Seabrook, John (26 March 2012). "The Song Machine". The New Yorker. LXXXVIII (6): 48–55.
    11. "Miss Ester Dean - EP - Ester Dean". iTunes. 2015-04-15. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
    12. "Ester Dean - Chart history - Billboard".
    13. "Ester Dean - Chart history - Billboard".
    14. "Ester Dean - Chart history - Billboard".
    15. Ryan, Gavin (May 16, 2015). "ARIA Singles: Wiz Khalifa Charlie Puth See You Again No 1 For 6 Weeks". Noise11. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
    16. "Baby Makin' Love by Ester Dean". Soudcloud. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    17. "Bam Bam by Ester Dean". Soudcloud. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    18. "Ester Dean - I Can't Make You Love Me by Interscope Records". Soudcloud. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    19. "How you love it ft. Missy Elliott by Ester Dean". Soudcloud. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    20. "Get My Dough - Single - Ester Dean". iTunes. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    21. "Ester Dean - Twerk'n 4 Birk'n by EMPIRE". Soudcloud. Retrieved 2015-07-03.
    22. "Twerkin 4 Birkin (feat. Juicy J) - Single - Ester Dean". iTunes. 2014-06-28. Retrieved 2015-07-03.
    23. "Love Suicide by Tinie Tempah and Ester Dean - Music Charts".
    24. Hung, Steffen. "Dutch Charts -".
    25. 1 2 "Chart Search – MGK "Invincible". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. November 10, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
    26. "MGK - Chart history - Billboard".
    27. "We've Only Just Begun (feat. Ester Dean) - Single - Michael Woods". iTunes. 2012-01-01. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
    28. "Ester Dean - Drop It Low ft. Chris Brown". YouTube. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    29. "MGK - Invincible (Explicit) ft. Ester Dean". YouTube. 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
    30. "Ester Dean - Baby Making Love". YouTube. 2014-06-24. Retrieved 2015-07-03.
    31. Esther Dean (28 May 2015). "NEW" via YouTube.
    32. "Ester Dean - Crazy Youngsters (from Pitch Perfect 2)". YouTube. 2015-06-14. Retrieved 2015-07-03.

    External links

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