Although she only became a household name after her appearance on Calvin Harris' 2013 single "Thinking About You," Ayah Marar was already a respected artist in her own right who had released her own solo album, as well as collaborating on dozens of singles by other artists. Born Laura Ayah Marar on September 20, 1980 in Amman, Jordan, she was inspired as a child by soul, R&B, hip-hop, and reggae. Upon moving to the U.K. at age 18 to study music at Warwick University, she became heavily involved in the drum'n'bass scene, running a club night. Eventually moving to London, she got a job in a record shop and started her own label, the short-lived Lucky Devil. Her first big break as a performer came in 2003 with Loxy & Ink's "Dance Child," which she co-wrote and sang. Collaborations with numerous other drum'n'bass artists followed before she became involved in the nascent grime and bass music scenes, working with artists such as DJ Fresh, Toddla T, and the aforementioned Calvin Harris, with whom she briefly lived; she contributed (uncredited) vocals to three of the tracks on his 2007 debut album, I Created Disco. In 2012 Marar released her debut solo single, "Mind Controller," on her new label, Hussle Girl, which was independent but distributed by Universal. The super-funky single was a big hit, with more than a quarter of a million views on YouTube. Several more singles followed, including the frantic drum'n'bass rush of "The Raver" and the slinky "Lethal Dose," and in October of that year she released her debut album, The Real, which encompassed numerous electronic music styles loosely falling under the umbrella of bass music. ~ John D. Buchanan
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