Early life and career
Campbell was born in Paddington, London, England, of a white father (Scottish and Irish) and St. Lucian mother. She attended Quintin Kynaston School in the early 1990s. At 15, she was singing to herself on a platform at Hammersmith tube station, and was overheard by Kwame Kwaten, a producer at the FreakStreet record label. In 1995, an unknown independent label released a single titled "Celebrate", which was a ballad produced by D'Influence. Although the single was not a commercial success, it did draw attention to Shola Ama as an artist. On her 16th birthday, she signed a recording contract with WEA.The single "You're the One I Love" was her first single release for WEA in 1996; it barely made an impact on the charts, only managing to reach No. 85. Her second WEA single, "You Might Need Somebody", remains her biggest hit. This Randy Crawford cover reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart. It remained in the top 40 for almost two months, becoming one of 1997's biggest hits. A re-release of "You're the One I Love" followed and reached #3. At the age of 18, Shola Ama released her debut album Much Love
(1997).On the success of the album, Shola Ama won a Brit Award for Best British Female and two MOBO Awards for Best Newcomer and Best R&B Act.
In 1999, Shola Ama released her second album In Return
. The project saw her working with the record producers Fred Jerkins III, Stargate, Shaun Labelle, Full Crew, D-Influence Productions and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (formerly of A Tribe Called Quest). Co-writers included Angie Stone and Babyface with David Foster.Despite having support from her record label, In Return
was a commercial flop. Following this, Shola Ama took a break from recording.In 2002, she was noted as a 'legend' at the World Music Awards.
In 2003, she went back into the recording studio to record her third album, Supersonic
. Unable to obtain a major label deal, she instead formed a distribution deal with Pony Canyon.In 2004, she featured on the track "You Should Really Know" by The Pirates, a response in song to Mario Winans' "I Don't Wanna Know" which reached #8 on the UK chart.She also mentored her sister Sadie Ama, who signed her own recording contract and released "So Sure" (2004) and "Fallin" (2007).Shola Ama is the featured vocalist on the Perempay & Dee single "DJ Play". The song was released in October 2009 and got heavy rotation on the radio. She also featured on one of rapper Giggs songs, "Cut Above the Rest", and later featured on the bonus disc to his album, Let Em Ave It
, on a song called "Blow Em Away".In February 2010, Shola Ama joined a new collective group formed by Wiley called A-List, alongside her sister Sadie Ama. Further information: Wiley (rapper)#A-List
In April 2010, Shola Ama was a guest judge for a girl group on the Sky 1 television docusoap Pineapple Dance Studios
alongside reality TV star Dean Rowland.In 2013, during Black History Month in the UK, Shola Ama narrated on the show My Crazy Jamaican Life
. The show featured two white girls who are associated with Jamaican men living in England. It received mixed reviews by UK viewers of all ethnicities.