One of the most promising R&B artists to emerge during the early 2010s, singer and songwriter Elle Varner grew up in a musical family -- one that spent much of its time together in recording studios.
Both of Varner's parents were music industry veterans. Mikelyn Roderick, her mother, was a backup vocalist for Barry White and has written and recorded with Tevin Campbell and Rahsaan Patterson; she also released an album on the Dome label in 2007. Varner's father, Jimmy Varner, was a songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist; he has collaborated with Gerald Alston, Kool & the Gang, and Will Downing. As a child, Elle Varner accompanied her parents to sessions, learned the ins and outs of recording, and would be asked for feedback on her parents' material. Signed to the J label -- home to inspirations and contemporaries like Monica, Alicia Keys, Marsha Ambrosius, and Jazmine Sullivan -- Varner, while in her early twenties, debuted in August 2011 with "Only Wanna Give It to You," featuring J. Cole. The single peaked at number 20 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Due to label restructuring, the J label was eliminated; Varner shifted to the RCA roster before year's end. The lyrically and sonically distinctive "Refill" hit the chart in March 2012 and, within a few weeks, had nearly topped the debut. A free mixtape, Conversational Lush (its title taken from "Refill"), was issued prior to Varner's proper debut album, August 2012's Perfectly Imperfect. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi