Florence Welch is a hugely celebrated artist who has long surpassed her roots as the queen of indie chamber pop-rock. A little over a decade since her band Florence + the Machine got catapulted to fame with Dog Days Are Over, she is still nabbing awards for compositions. At the 2023 Ivor Novello Awards, the band’s single ‘King’ earned a nod for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
When you think about creating music that makes an impact, Florence and company simply come to mind with ease because of their penchant for sweeping melodies, gradual buildups, and theatrical musicality that get grounded by the lyrics. While you may already be aware of these ingredients to success, you might be surprised to learn a few little-known facts about the frontwoman.
1. The Gigs Before The Machine
Before becoming the singer with a flair for drama on stage we know today, Florence started singing at weddings and funerals. It makes sense that her haunting vocals would fit right in with the other musicians playing for these meaningful occasions on both ends of the spectrum.
A solid party band for hire is able to cater to different types of events as needed, and it’s pretty fascinating to imagine a young Florence singing along with them pre-fame. These days, you can see up-and-coming bands play these events with their renditions of her own songs with The Machine. She would continue on to do small gigs throughout London before settling into her own main band. This is not to be confused, of course, with her childhood punk band, The Toxic Cockroaches.
2. She’s a Brunette
Florence has practically become synonymous with her flowing red hair, which compliments the flowy gowns and eclectic looks she dons whenever she performs. It seems impossible to imagine any other hair color on the songstress, but the reality is that she is a brunette. You can see her natural dark roots when you check out her earliest performances.
These days, you’d be hard-pressed to catch her without the iconic auburn locks. She has spoken before about identifying more with the red hair, finding it strange to let her natural color grow back. In a 2012 Marie Claire interview, she declared herself a “lifer” for her ginger identity.
3. Florence was a Gleek
There was a time when Glee was the biggest show on network television and amassed an army of devoted fans called Gleeks. Its popularity hit such a global stride that the cast ended up going on an international concert tour and its biggest covers continue to amass millions of streams today. It covered plenty of songs from different eras, with Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” and “Shake It Off” making an appearance in the second season.
It was shortly after revealed that Florence herself fully dove into the episode and spent their Christmas dancing to the covers. “This was a song I had written in a basement in a tiny studio in South London and now it’s on Glee!” she told entertainment rag E!
4. She Did a Personal Concert for a Sick Fan
Florence has done quite a bit of charitable work throughout her career. She has supported charities like the Small Steps Projects and Save The Music Foundation, among others. All the benefit performances and donations aside, one of the most touching things she has done is visit a young fan who was unable to attend her concert in 2023 due to a challenging battle with cancer. Florence stopped by to not only chat and give support but also perform a number of her songs with a guitarist to provide the full experience.
5. Her Band is Also Named After a Friend
There is already quite a large chunk of people who don’t even know that “Florence and the Machine” is actually a full band, but even more people aren’t aware of the origins of the name. As it turns out, the name is a combination of the band’s founders. ‘Florence’, for obvious reasons, refers to Welch herself while ‘ the Machine’ refers to co-founder, keyboardist, and producer Isabella “Machine” Summers. The band’s first iteration, which was mostly just the two long-time friends and collaborators, played under the name Florence Robot/Isa Machine before landing on its final name.
6. Florence Left School for Music
Florence’s desire to perform started early, and she would often get in trouble during primary school for singing randomly during classes. Her tertiary education would only last a moment at Camberwell College of Arts before she eventually dropped out to focus fully on her music. What was just meant to be a gap year ended up being the beginning of the career we know today.
7. Her Big Break Happened in a Bathroom
Usually, nightclub bathrooms are associated with less-than-stellar memories. However, Florence’s tale is decidedly much more joyful as this is how she was essentially “discovered.” Inebriated and filled with drive, Florence sang Etta James to her now-manager Mairead Nash as the thump of the DJ’s bass-heavy mixes pounded just outside the door. As luck (and a whole lot of talent) would have it, Nash was one of the night’s producers and started Florence on her path to stardom.
There’s no doubt that Florence Welch is one of the most memorable and mesmerizing performers in recent memory. She has this special way of reeling in every listener and getting straight to the heart of an audience, whether it’s a huge festival or an intimate concert. With this almost imperceptible shroud of mystery surrounding them, it’s always cool to find out a little more about the greatest artists of our time.