10 Facts About Ester Dean: ‘Songland’ Songwriting Mentor and ‘Pitch Perfect’ Star

Kyle Montplaisir
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Songland producers Ester DeanTrae Patton/NBC

Songland has taken America by storm, giving songwriters a chance to be in the spotlight. Ester Dean is one of the mentors advising the aspiring stars.

But though you may already know her from Pitch Perfect, there’s a lot more about Ester Dean that you probably don’t know! Here are ten facts about the star songwriter behind some of your favorite songs.

1. Ester is from Oklahoma.

Ester Dean was born on April 15, 1986 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Muskogee is also the hometown of The Swon Brothers, who competed on Season 4 of The Voice.

2. She began writing music to escape.

Ester started writing music at a young age. Born into a low-income household with a single mother, she channeled her pain and emotions into music. Writing served as self-therapy, helping her cope with a difficult, impoverished life.

3. Ester was discovered in the audience of a concert.

This one is pretty wild! Ester Dean moved to Atlanta with $500 in her pocket at age 20. She dreamed of breaking into the music industry. While at a concert, a music producer named Tricky Stewart overheard Ester singing in the crowd and asked to set up a meeting. He was instantly impressed by her voice and songwriting ability. Tricky signed her to a small publishing deal, which gave her what she needed to write music for a living.

4. Ester had her own song on the Billboard Hot 100.

In case you didn’t already know, Ester is a chart-hitting singer herself! Her first single, “Drop It Low,” peaked at #38 on the Billboard Hot 100. She has also been featured in a number of songs by artists like Ludacris, 50 Cent, and Chris Brown.

5. Her first #1 single was a Rihanna song.

Ester Dean had a big break when she collaborated with super producers Stargate. Her first number one single was Rihanna’s “Rude Boy.” In interviews, she has explained that the song came from talking to the singer about what they call “bad boys” in Barbados. When she said “rude boys,” Ester Dean came up with what eventually became the chorus of the song. Ester was later surprised by the success of the song because she had spent the day pitching her songs that had been written out and planned ahead of time, but the one Rihanna went with was made up on the fly! She went on to write many more songs for the pop star.

6. Her nickname is “The Song Machine.”

Because of her success in songwriting, The New Yorker called Ester Dean “The Song Machine,” a nickname that has stuck since. She has written for artists like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Drake, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, and more. The nickname is definitely well deserved!

7. “Pitch Perfect” isn’t her only movie credit.

Though Ester Dean is well-known for her role as Cynthia-Rose in Pitch Perfect, she’s been on the big screen other times too! She voiced characters in both Ice Age: Continental Drift and Rio. Ester contributed to the soundtrack of Rio as well. The star has also appeared in the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

8. She’s been nominated for a Grammy.

Ester earned her one and only Grammy nomination for Album of the Year as a producer on Rihanna’s album, “Loud.” She lost the award to Adele’s “21,” which was co-written by fellow Songland mentor Ryan Tedder.

9. Ester Dean has a lot of other aspirations!

In an interview with Us Weekly, Ester shared a list of things we don’t know about her. Among those, she stated that she wants to be a professional chef, a psychiatrist, and is “obsessed” with creating and directing a film.

10. Ester is still actively writing.

While on Songland, Ester Dean is still actively writing music! She recently wrote “Thinkin Bout You” for Ciara, who she has worked with numerous times before.

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