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Ricki-Lee Coulter was born on November 11, 1985 in Australia. After a brief foray into an athletic lifestyle, she was forced to find a new passion after a leg injury. Shortly thereafter, her mother discovered that Ricki-Lee had a phenomenal voice, and from the age of 15, she was a participant in musical theater, performing in productions of Hair, Cats, Rent, Miss Saigon, and many more. In 2004, she auditioned for the second season of Channel Ten's Australian Idol, a spinoff of the Idol franchise. Ricki-Lee's immense stage presence and talent propelled her all the way to the final 12 contestants. She was one of the judges' favorites, as well as a fan favorite, but was unexpectedly voted out of the competition during the week of the final seven.
Although she was expected to sign with Sony BMG, which signed many of the Idol finalists, Ricki-Lee instead secured a deal with Australia's largest independent record company, Shock Records. She recorded her self-titled debut album in Melbourne, Australia, and this included contributions from big names such as Audius Mtawarira and Israel. The first single to be taken from Ricki-Lee was "Hell No!," which debuted on the ARIA charts at number five and spent three weeks in the Top Ten. The track stayed in the Top 40 for nearly three months and was eventually certified gold, as was her second single, "Sunshine," which debuted at number eight on the same chart. The beautiful ballad "Breathe" was the third track to be culled from her debut and eventually reached number 14, while the album itself debuted at a modest number 30.
Following the strong start to her solo career, Ricki-Lee reunited with three other Australian Idol contestants, Paulini, Kate DeAraugo, and Emily Williams, in early 2006. Together, these four women comprised the Young Divas, ostensibly a promotional tool for the quartet created by Sony BMG. However, following the success of their ARIA number two single, "This Time I Know It's for Real" -- which was eventually certified platinum -- the four-piece embarked on a three-month tour around Australia, causing Ricki-Lee to postpone her wedding. Their second single release -- a cover of Lonnie Gordon's "Happenin' All Over Again" -- also reached the Australian Top Ten. Following the strong reception of these first two singles, the quartet decided to record a full-length album. This release, Young Divas, was a monumental success, debuting at number four and eventually being certified double platinum. "Searchin'," a third single from the album, was released in March 2007 and crept into the Australian Top 40.
The following month, after a difficult period of personal debate, Ricki-Lee decided she was going to leave the Young Divas in order to continue to pursue her solo career. She immediately went back into the studio to work on her second solo full-length, Brand New Day. The first single from that album was "Can't Touch It," Coulter's biggest success to date, debuting at number two in Australia. The album itself was released on August 11, 2007, and debuted at number 37, while its second single, the Agnes Carlsson composition "Love Is All Around," gave her another Australian Top Five hit. A deal with Ministry of Sound also brought her U.K. club success in 2008, when "Can't Touch It" was remixed and retitled as "U Wanna Little of This."
In the run-up to the release of the 2008 compilation Ricki-Lee: The Singles, her profile was further boosted with regular appearances in a co-hosting capacity on a number of Australian TV and radio shows. In 2009, during a temporary spell in the U.S., she recorded the electro-influenced singles "Don't Miss You" and "Hear No, See No, Speak No." Back in Australia, she moved into a full-time breakfast DJ role for most of 2010 and 2011 before announcing a new recording deal with EMI. The early stages of this contract brought a return to the Australian Top 20 in the form of the upbeat singles "Raining Diamonds" and "Do It Like That." ~ Matthew Chisling & James Wilkinson
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