Elle Varner Biography
Varner is the daughter of Mikelyn Roderick and Jimmy Varner, songwriters and publishers. Roderick was a backup vocalist for Barry White; and has written and recorded with Tevin Campbell and Rahsaan Patterson. Roderick released an album on the Dome label in 2007. Jimmy Varner is a songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist; who has collaborated with Gerald Alston, Kool & the Gang, and Will Downing . She spent most of her childhood sleeping on studio couches, running around green rooms, and watching her parents struggle to make a name in the industry. With music running through her veins, Varner was singing as soon as she could speak, playing the flute at 6 and the piano at 9. But it wasn't until her attendance at AGC (Amazing Grace Conservatory) that her ear for harmony, melody and complex rhythm truly developed.. Due to this Varner grew up around music: in recording studios and backstage at her parents concert performances. At age six she began to play musical instruments, beginning with the flute, and later she moved on to piano and guitar. She attended several music programs including actress Wendy Racquel Robinson's Amazing Grace Conservatory starting at age 11 and Alexander Hamilton High School's Academy of Music's Vocal Jazz Group. It was there she penned her first song, “Thankful”. The song, which she played with one string on the guitar, scored the top prize at a local talent show. Earning a coveted spot in New York University’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music (which only accepts 24 students per year)was further proof that she was headed in the right direction. In 2008 Varner graduated from NYU's renowned Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. “To be recognized for my talent in a program that only selects 24 students per class, out of thousands, was like, ‘Wow!’ I knew that I had really stepped up to the plate” says Elle Varner.
Her debut single "Only Wanna Give It to You" features J. Cole and was released August 16, 2011. The song serves as the lead single off her upcoming album Perfectly Imperfect. Before the release of the album, Varner released her first project, a mixtape titled Conversational Lush in 2012).
At age 16, Elle picked up the guitar for the first time. Frustrated that she wasn't instantly as good as Hendrix, she dropped the guitar and became a part of Alexander Hamilton High School's Academy of Music's Vocal Jazz Group. Once there, she learned about the complexity of the voice, jazz music and talented jazz artists like Ella Fitzgerald. Varner was surprised to discover that she had been chosen to be a part of The Grammy in the Schools Mentoring Program. Through this program she was taken weekly to the Fox Studio, where she met with mentor Kelly Burgos, and President of Fox Music, Robert Kraft. Soon after, Varner hesitantly applied to NYU with her C average and was surprisingly accepted. Not only did she get in, but also she was admitted into the second class of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. Upon graduating, she was awarded "most likely to get signed" and "most likely to win a Grammy." Four years later she finds herself a well-rounded and cultured singer-songwriter. In 2008 Varner graduated from NYU's renowned Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. In October 2009 she signed with MBK/J-RCA Records along with a co-publishing agreement with Sony Music.
In October 2009 she signed with MBK/J-RCA Records along with a co-publishing agreement with Sony Music. After honing her skills even further, Varner became one of the first artists featured in BET’s Music Matters campaign for 2010.
As she prepares to take her place on center stage, Elle Varner sees no limit to her possibilities. “I think every girl dreams of being famous and enjoying all of the hoopla that comes with it, but at this point in my life, I know like I know my name that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she says. “I’ve been blessed with the tremendous gift of music and it’s my responsibility to share it with the world. I see big things in the future”.
2011–present: Perfectly Imperfect
Varner's debut single "Only Wanna Give It to You" was released on August 6, 2011. The song, which serves as the lead single from her debut studio album Perfectly Imperfect (2012), features American rapper J. Cole. The song peaked at #20 on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In October 2011, she was listed as one of TheBoomBox's '15 Artists to Watch' and was one of the artists featured in BET's Music Matters campaign. On October 7, 2011, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding J Records along with Arista Records and Jive Records. With the shutdown, Varner (and all other artists previously signed to these three labels) will release her future material on RCA Records.
In preparation for her debut studio album, Varner released a mixtape on January 23, 2012, titled Conversational Lush as promotion towards her debut. The second single from Varner's debut album "Refill" was released to iTunes January 31, 2012, and debuted at #78 on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. On February 11, 2012, Varner and The Roots gave a performance dedicated to Whitney Houston, for the Roots Pre-Grammy Jam Session at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. When asked in a interview what is to be expected from her debut, Varner said in a statement: “a lot of color, a lot of range. There’s fun songs, emotional songs, deep songs, everything you could think about is on that album." Elle Varner's debut album was announced to be released on August 7, 2012.