Although Florence Welch is the singer, principle songwriter and face of Florence + The Machine, the band also includes pianist Isabella Summers plus guitarist Rob Ackroyd, drummer Christopher Lloyd Hayden and harpist Tom Monger. Growing up influenced by Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, Welch teamed-up with Summers when they were young and made music together as Florence Robot and Isabella Machine which they initially shortened to Florence Robot/Isa Machine. After playing with the band Ashok, Welch and Summers reunited, signed to Island Records and renamed Florence + The Machine released their debut album Lungs in 2009. Of the thirteen tracks on the record two were covers (Candi Staton's 'You Got The Love' plus 'Girl With One Eye', a previously unrecorded song by a punk band called The Ludes). The remaining eleven songs were co-written by Welch, five with Summers, two with producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay, Cee Lo Green), one with Eg White (formerly of Yip Yip Coyote and Brother Beyond), one with Matt Allchin and one with band members Ackroyd and Hayden. Tracks on the album were variously produced by Epworth, Stephen Mackay (formerly of Pulp), James Ford (of Simian Mobile Disco) and Charlie Hugall. With worldwide sales in excess of three million copies the record topped the UK charts, reached No 3 in Australia and New Zealand and peaked at No 14 in the USA. Six singles were released from the album (albeit over a two year period) and while 'Kiss With A Fist', 'Drumming Song' and 'Cosmic Love' failed to break into the charts, 'Dog Days Are Over', 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' and 'You've Got The Love' were all significant hits peaking at No 23, No 12 and No 5 respectively.
At the 2010 BRIT Awards in February of that year Florence and Dizzee Rascal performed a mash-up of 'You've Got The Love' and his song 'Dirtee Cash'. Re-titled 'You've Got The Dirtee Love' the track was released the next day as a digital download exclusively through iTunes and debuted on the UK singles chart at No 2. Florence + The Machine contributed the song 'Heavy In Your Arms' to the soundtrack of the movie The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which although unsuccessful as a single was critically acclaimed. The band's November 2010 gig at Los Angeles' Wiltern theatre was issued as a digital download the following June as their first live album Live At The Wiltern. The same month their cover of 'Not Fade Away' was included on the all-star tribute compilation album Rave On Buddy Holly which also featured contributions from Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Cee Lo Green and Modest Mouse. Released in October 2011 their second studio album Ceremonials, featuring eleven original tracks co-written by Welch with Summers (two songs), Eg White (two songs) Epworth (four songs), Epworth and Kid Harpoon (three songs) and one wholly composed by Welch herself, was preceded by the No 12 British hit single 'Shake It Out'. The record was produced by Epworth while the band had expanded to include multi-instrumentalist Mark Saunders who contributed bass, percussion and backing vocals. The album debuted at the top of the UK, Australian and New Zealand charts, peaked at No 6 in the USA and went on to sell two million copies worldwide. Subsequent singles 'No Light, No Light', 'Never Let Me Go' and 'Lover To Lover' were unsuccessful (as was 'Breath Of Life' written especially for the movie Snow White & The Huntsman) but the Calvin Harris remix of 'Spectrum (Say My Name)' became the band's biggest hit so far by topping the UK charts in July 2012. Welch was back at No 1 in October of that year as the featured vocalist on Calvin Harris' own track 'Sweet Nothing' which was co-written by Harris, Welch and Kid Harpoon.
Since their debut in 2009 the band have received a number of awards including two BRIT Awards (the Critics Choice and the Mastercard British Album of the Year for Lungs), the Mercury Prize (also for Lungs), the South Bank Show Award, Ireland's Meteor Music Award 2010 for Best International Band, two Q Awards (Best Female and Best Song for 'You've Got The Love') and the MTV Best Music Video Award for 'Dog Days Are Over'. In just a few years Florence + The Machine proved themselves to an immensely creative band and in Welch they have a leader and singer of no little talent. Although as yet her lyrics are not particularly sophisticated she is blessed with a vocal delivery that could make even the most mundane collection of words sound intriguing, and when supported by the band and framed within Paul Epworth's productions their songs are significantly more interesting than most of the current competition.
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