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Lisa Maffia

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The self-proclaimed First Lady of the U.K. grime scene, MC/vocalist Lisa Maffia put the tabloid controversy surrounding So Solid Crew behind her to became its most successful solo member. Born in South London in 1979, Maffia grew up on a Battersea housing estate with her sister and Italian mother. Learning to perform at an early age, she trained in Latino ballroom, tap, and modern dancing, and secured a Prince's Trust grant to provide funding for her singing lessons. But after becoming pregnant with daughter Chelsea at the age of 17, her music career was put on hold. Two years later, she made her first recordings, as the only female in the hip-hop production collective So Solid Crew. After signing to Relentless Records, they released debut single "Oh No," featuring Maffia on lead vocals, and scored a number one hit with "21 Seconds." One of the most controversial groups of the decade thanks to their links with violent crime, they split up in 2003 after four Top Five hits and a number three album. The same year, Maffia signed a solo record deal with Independiente Records, and debut single "All Over" charted at number two, higher than any other solo single from her former bandmates. Second single "In Love" reached number 13, but despite high-profile support slots on tours with Christina Aguilera, Blue, and Daniel Bedingfield and a MOBO Award for Best U.K. Garage Act, both her debut album First Lady and third single "Women of the World" missed the Top 40. After parting company with Independiente, she set her up own label, Maffia Recordz and signed the likes of Northstar Ent, Flirta D, and Youngstarz. In 2007, she returned to the charts when she provided vocals for the Dave Spoon dance track "Bad Girl at Night." (number 36). Maffia has also carved out a career as a model and a TV personality, finishing third in the third series of Channel 4's The Games and appearing as an air stewardess in ITV's CelebAir. ~ Jon O'Brien

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16 September 1979 in London, England

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