Missy Elliott is a multiple Grammy Award winning musician who is also known for her keen business acumen. She was born on July 1, 1971 in Portsmouth, Virginia as Melissa Arnette Elliott. She had a very difficult childhood; her family was extremely poor, and her father Ronnie regularly abused her mother Patricia. Missy herself was a victim of frequent sexual abuse by an older cousin when she was 8 years old. Although she took little interest in her school work, she had a high IQ and was a popular member of her class, and was always entertaining her friends with her antics. When she was 14 years old, Elliott’s mother finally left her husband and they moved in with family members.
Away from her abusive father, Elliott and her mother began to build a life of their own. In the early 1990s, Elliott formed a band named “Fayze” that was later renamed “Sista”. The band was signed to Elektra Records but their album was never released due to financial issues. She and her fellow member Timbaland continued to work together on several projects, writing songs and producing albums for fellow artists such as Aaliyah. Her album “One in a Million” had several songs written by Elliott and Timbaland, with Elliott also providing backing vocals on many of the tracks. She was also featured on Sean Comb’s (also known as “Puffy”) album.
In 1996, Elliott signed a deal with East West Records and formed her own label, “The Goldmind Inc.”. Her first album, produced by Timbaland, was titled “Supa Dupa Fly” and released in 1997. The lead single from the album was titled “Rain” and the album eventually went platinum. It was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Elliott gained mainstream success and performed live at the MTV Video Music Awards. She continued to produce for other artists including Whitney Houston, Melanie B. from the band “Spice Girls” and Total.
Her second album was titled “Da Real World” and it was released in 1999. This was quite different from her first album, but was just as successful, selling 1.5 million copies in the U.S. and 3 million copies worldwide. Her third album was titled “Miss E… So Addictive” and contained the hit songs “One Minute Man” (featuring Ludacris), “Get Ur Freak On” and “4 My People”. Elliott also co-produced the song “Lady Marmalade” from the soundtrack of the hit film “Mouin Rouge” by Baz Luhrmann.
Her next album was released in 2002 and was titled “Under Construction”. It was her most commercially successful album, selling 2.1 million copies in the U.S, making it the highest selling female led rap album. She received Grammy nominations for “Best Rap Album” and “Album of the Year” and won a Grammy for her hit single “Get Ur Freak On” the same year. Her next “This Is Not A Test!” also went platinum but was not as successful as her previous one. Her next two albums “The Cookbook” and “Respect M.E.” were also successful, giving her 5 more Grammy nominations.
Missy Elliott’s phenomenal success as a singer, producer, songwriter and entrepreneur has made her one of the leading female entertainers in the industry. At the start of her career she was often dismissed because her appearance did not conform to mainstream standards of beauty, yet she has chalked her own path to success despite the numerous obstacles in her way. She suffers from a thyroid disorder called Graves’ disease but has managed to control it through diet and exercise. She endorses MAC cosmetics’ Viva Glam V lipsticks from which the sales proceeds go to the MAC AIDS Fund. She also supports programs for underprivileged youth.