Desirée Annette Weekes (born 30 November 1968), known by her stage name Des’ree is an English pop recording artist who rose to popularity during the 1990s. She is best known for her hits “Feel So High”, “You Gotta Be”, “Life”, and “Kissing You” (from the soundtrack of the film Romeo + Juliet). At the 1999 Brit Awards she received the Brit Award for Best British female solo artist.
Des’ree was born in Croydon, South East London, England, on 30 November 1968. Her mother is from British Guiana (now Guyana), and her father is from Barbados. She was introduced to reggae, calypso and jazz music by her parents. At the age of 22, and with no connections in the music industry, she was signed in 1991 to Sony 550 when she asked her boyfriend to send a demo to the label, and they quickly contacted her.
Des’ree’s debut single, “Feel So High”, was released in August 1991, a mere 12 weeks after her signing. The single did not initially reach the UK top 40, but hit #13 when it was re-released in January 1992. Her debut album Mind Adventures was released in February 1992. It received good reviews and hit the top 30 in the UK. She spent in 1992 touring as the opening act to Simply Red. In 1993, Des’ree collaborated with Terence Trent D’Arby on the song “Delicate”, which was released as a single and hit the UK top 20 and the US top 100. She ended the year singing with a host of other artists at the first concert of secular music at the Vatican City, on 23 December 1993, which was aired on Italian TV. The concert, named Concerto di Natale, has been held with different artists every Christmas in the years since.
In 1994, her single “You Gotta Be” hit the Billboard Hot 100 Top 5, peaking at number 5, and was a hit in the UK three times. “You Gotta Be” became the most played music video on VH1 and remained on the Billboard Recurrent Airplay Chart for 80 weeks. Following the single’s success, Des’ree’s second album, I Ain’t Movin’, sold in excess of 2.5 million copies worldwide. Her success led to an American tour with Seal in 1995. The following year, she contributed the song “Kissing You” to the soundtrack of the film William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. She appears in the film singing the song. In 1997, her song “Crazy Maze” was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Nothing to Lose with Martin Lawrence and Tim Robbins. In the same year she provided vocals on “Plenty Lovin'” on Steve Winwood’s album Junction Seven.
In 1998, her single “Life” became a hit in Europe, reaching number 1 in many countries, as well as in Japan. In 1999, she won a Brit Award for the British Female Solo Artist category. The album from which the single was taken, Supernatural, was also released in 1998 to mostly positive reviews. It was somewhat successful in the UK, but was a commercial flop in the United States. In 2007, Des’ree also notably won a BBC poll for the “worst lyrics ever” for the single, the offending lyrics being “I don’t want to see a ghost/it’s the sight that I fear most/I’d rather have a piece of toast/watch the evening news”. In 1999, she sang The Beatles’ song “Blackbird” at a concert in honour of Linda McCartney. At the concert, she met the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and she collaborated with them on a cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine”, which was released in late 1999. After that, Des’ree put her music career on hold to focus on her private life and disappeared from the public eye.
A compilation of rare songs and live tracks, Endangered Species, was released in 2000. In 2001 she contributed vocals to the charity single “Wake Up The Morning”, which was released in honour of the death of Damilola Taylor. Billed as Together As One, other contributors to the song were Gabrielle, Andrew Roachford and Courtney Pine. In 2002, she contributed a sung sonnet from William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to the various artists album When Love Speaks. Sony released Dream Soldier in 2003. Only one track from the album was released as a single, “It’s Okay”, which peaked in the UK at number 69. The single did not chart in the US. The video, directed by Jake Nava, was shot in London’s Notting Hill. “Dream Soldier” was not a critical or commercial success. Des’ree was subsequently dropped by her label, Sony/550 Music, following the release of the album in March 2003.
Shortly afterwards, she took a hiatus from music to focus on her interest in naturopathy, also training as a nutritionist. In 2008 she came out of her hiatus to perform at the O2 Arena for Young Voices’ “The Big Sing” charity concert. She helped break the record for “most people simultaneously singing the same song” by leading 600,000 schoolchildren across the United Kingdom in singing “You Gotta Be”. In 2011, she performed “You Gotta Be” at the wedding for George Medal recipient Paul Jacobs. That same year, she sung a lullaby on naturopath Julie Langton-Smith’s sleep therapy CD Sleep Talk Lullaby.
In September 2019, it was revealed that her fifth album, her first in sixteen years, would be titled A Love Story and would be released by her own label Stargazer Records on 11 October 2019. She had begun work on the album in 2012, but took a break to care for her mother.
“Silent Hero”, written by Des’ree and Prince Sampson, featured in Spike Lee’s 1995 film Clockers, “Feel So High”, written by Des’ree and Michael Graves, featured in the 1996 film Set It Off, and “You Gotta Be” featured in The Object of My Affection and The Next Karate Kid. In 1997, Des’ree’s hit “Feel So High” was interpolated into the Janet Jackson song “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” from Jackson’s CD The Velvet Rope without due credit to Des’ree as a contributor. The maxi single, however, lists Des’ree and Michael Graves as two of the song’s writers, after winning a lawsuit against Jackson. She also considered suing Robyn and Cleopatra due to the similarities between their songs (“Show Me Love” and “Life Ain’t Easy” respectively) and “Feel So High”; however, nothing came of it. In 1999 she recorded a duet with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a cover of the Bill Withers song “Ain’t No Sunshine”.
Des’ree has won several awards, including a Brit Award, an Ivor Novello Award, World Music Award, Urban Music Award and a BMI Award for over five million plays of “You Gotta Be” in America alone. Des’ree also won a BBC poll for “Worst Pop Lyricist” for the 1998 single “Life”, though it went to number 1 in Japan, Spain and several other European countries.
Des’ree is a vegetarian. In 2002, she did short courses in photography and ceramics at the Camberwell College of Arts.
Mind Adventures is the debut album by British soul singer-songwriter Des’ree. It was released on 17 February 1992 on the Sony Soho Square record label, and features the UK top 20 hit, “Feel So High”. The album became Des’ree’s first top 40 album, peaking at number 26 on the UK Albums Chart.
The album was not released in the United States at the time. It got a belated release on 4 April 1995, after Des’ree’s second album I Ain’t Movin’ had been released there the previous year and she was achieving success with the single “You Gotta Be”. Since “Feel So High” had been included on the US edition of I Ain’t Movin’, the US edition of Mind Adventures excluded it from its track list. (wikipedia)
The US edition:
They have become rare, the true singer/songwriters: singers who can also compose. That’s why the black Londoner with the exotic stage name Des’ree, although only born in 1969, can consider herself in the top group of this rather mature genre. And probably also for lack of real competition. Des’ree’s third album, meaningfully titled Mind Adventures, like its two predecessors, sounded strongly of peace, joy, campfires and a fierce longing for a balanced, spiritually-oriented life. The tack was almost entirely acoustic and extremely sparsely orchestrated, which brought the soulful, smoky voice of its performer all the more to the fore. Des’ree, for all her funk and reggae leanings, certainly seemed like the calm herself: Mind Adventures, these are peaceful songs in an extremely peaceful ambience. The established competition looks old in comparison. The real adventures take place in the head. (Michael Fuchs-Gamböck)
This album is one of the earlier outputs from Des’ree’s incrediblely successful career. There is no mammoth hits on this album as these come later, but it is a wonderful collection of subtley different songs, each with their different melodies and each portraying a different message. Track 4 ‘why should I love you?’ in my opinion is the gem of the album, which is the classic des’ree ballad which shows just how bountiful her voice is. A close second is the upbeat track 6 ‘Competitive world’ which makes you feel positive and it’s very catchy.
Throughout the album des’ree’s voice appears to become stronger, and the low, sensual tones of her voice are like no other and sure to melt even the strongest cynics heart. I would recommend this ablum to any soul music fan – it takes a few listens to fall into the album fully, but once you do it will be a favourite for a very long time! (Pixiedeviluk)
Ian Alleyne (guitar)
Gary Barnacle (saxophone)
Pete Hinds (keyboards)
Ashley Ingram (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards)
Nick Ingram (strings)
Malcolm Joseph (bass)
Phil Legg (drums, bass, guitar)
Greg Lester (guitar)
Harry Morgan (percussion)
Trevor Murrell (drums)
Glenn Nightingale (guitar)
Fionn O’Lochlainn (bass)
Jeff Scantlebury (percussion)
Ritchie Stevens (drums)
Pete Wingfield (keyboards)
01. Average Man (Des’ree/Graves) 5.07
02. Feel So High (Des’ree/Graves) 3.55
03. Sun Of ’79 (Des’ree) 5:14
04. Why Should I Love You (Des’ree) 4.17
05. Stand On My Own Ground (Des’ree/Graves) 4.09
06. Competitive World (Des’ree/Graves) 5.32
07. Mind Adventures (Des’ree) 4.46
08. Laughter (Des’ree) 4.49
09. Save Me (Des’ree) 5.30
10. Momma Please Don’t Cry (Des’ree) 4.28
The official website: