Elena Jane “Ellie” Goulding (born 30 December 1986), is an English singer-songwriter who served as the only live performer at the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011 singing her rendition of Your Song for the couple’s first dance as well as her hits The Writer and Starry Eyed and several of William and Kate’s personal favorites. She was introduced to Prince William by Tinie Tempah at a music festival during the summer of 2010.
She became the second artist to be named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of the year in the BBC’s annual poll of music critics, Sound of 2010, and the recipient of the Critics’ Choice Award at the2010 BRIT Awards in the same year, following Adele’s win of both in 2008.
Goulding, the second of four children, grew up in Ipswich, England. She started playing the clarinet and writing songs at the age of nine, and at fourteen took up guitar. She brgan songwriting at the age of fifteen and while in college she won a singing competition.
After commencing a drama course at the University of Kent, where she was exposed to electronic music, she developed her sound with the help of Frankmusik on the track “Wish I Stayed”, and Starsmith, who went on to become her chief collaborator and primary producer of Lights. After two years at Kent, she was advised to take a gap year to pursue singing, and moved to West London.
After signing to Polydor Records in September 2009, she released her first extended-play recording in 2009, An Introduction to Ellie Goulding, and her debut studio album Lights followed in March 2010 which sold over 380,000 copies by the end of 2010. The album reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and number twelve on the Irish Albums Chart.
In August 2010, Ellie released a second extended play, Run Into the Light, a remixed version of Lights. The album was supported by Nike and was released through Polydor as a running soundtrack in an effort to get Goulding’s music taken up by the national running subculture. She is a keen runner, running six miles every day, and has taken part in a number of marathons. In support of her second EP, Run Into the Light, she invited a small number of fans through her Facebook pages, to run with her in seven different cities on her UK tour, and has announced that she will be doing the same across Europe and the United States. A website, EllieRuns.com, was launched in support.
In November 2010, Lights was re-released as Bright Lights, with six new tracks added. Her cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” was released in conjunction with the John Lewis Christmas 2010 advertising campaign in the UK. The single became Goulding’s highest-charting single to date, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart. The song also charted in some European countries in early 2011.
Her third EP was a live recording of part of her set at the iTunes Festival 2010. The whole set was later released as part of the iTunes version of Bright Lights.
Goulding was featured as number five artist on Rolling Stone Magazine's hotlist in February 2011. In February 2011 she returned to the BRIT Awards where she was nominated for the Best British Female Solo Artist and the Best British Breakthrough Act.
She was the musical guest on the 700th episode of the Saturday Night Live, broadcast 8 May 2011 and hosted by Tina Fey.