Celeste becomes first musician to pen original track for John Lewis ad

Who is the voice behind the John Lewis Christmas ad? California-born Brit Award-winning soul singer Celeste, 26, who arrived in London with £100 in her pocket becomes first musician to pen original track for the festive clip

  • Celeste is the first musician to pen an original track for John Lewis Christmas ad
  • British singer, 26, produced a new track, titled A Little Love, for the festive offer
  • This year, the ad highlights how small acts of kindness can alleviate loneliness

Brit Award-winning soul singer Celeste has become the first musician chosen to write and record an original song for the John Lewis Christmas advert. 

In a step away from tradition, the retail giant commissioned the British soul singer, 26, to produce a new track, titled A Little Love, to provide a soundtrack to its annual festive commercial.

This year, the advert highlights how small acts of kindness can alleviate loneliness and bring joy to people who are quietly struggling.

In previous years, artists including Ellie Goulding, Lily Allen and Dan Smith from the band Bastille have covered classic songs known to the nation, and in 2018 Sir Elton John performed his 1970 track Your Song.

Despite not yet having released an album, Celeste has already scooped a Brit Award and BBC Music’s Sound of 2020, with critics praising her voice, which has been compared to Amy Winehouse’s. 

The California-born singer – full name Celeste Epiphany Waite – started her career with just £100 in her pocket as she headed to London.

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Celeste (pictured in 2019) has become the first musician chosen to write and record an original song for the John Lewis Christmas advert

In a step away from tradition, the retail giant commissioned the British soul singer (pictured in 2019), 26, to produce a new track, titled A Little Love, to provide a soundtrack to its annual festive commercial

This year, the advert (pictured) highlights how small acts of kindness can alleviate loneliness and bring joy to people who are quietly struggling

Speaking about the advert, Celeste said: ‘I felt honoured to be asked to take part. I wanted to create something that felt classic but still true to who I am as a writer and performer.’ 

Born in California, Celeste moved to Dagenham in east London aged three before settling in Saltdean near Brighton – where she spent most of her adolescence.

Her early influences included Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald, whose music was played throughout her family home.

In 2017, she moved to London with £100 but was fired from her job as she would skip work in order to make music.

In December 2019, she was announced as the winner of the Rising Star Award at the Brits, and a month later she was crowned the winner of BBC Music’s Sound Of 2020.

Celeste performs at Omeara London on November 12, 2019. In December 2019, she was announced as the winner of the Rising Star Award at the Brits, and a month later she was crowned the winner of BBC Music’s Sound Of 2020

Only a few artists, including Adele, Sam Smith and Jorja Smith, have secured both awards.

She said at the time: ‘2019 was an incredible year for me and I could never have predicted half of the things that happened.’

Her best-known tracks include Strange, Lately and Father’s Son, and her delayed self-titled debut album is due in January 2021.

Ten pence from each download of A Little Love will go to the charity campaign, benefiting Home-Start and FareShare, which support thousands of struggling families and help put food on the table in homes across the UK. 

Celeste’s (pictured in February 2020) best-known tracks include Strange, Lately and Father’s Son, and her delayed self-titled debut album is due in January 2021

Set in a Covid-free world, the campaign hopes to raise a smile with light-hearted scenes of magical flying snowmen, supersized Christmas crackers and a hedgehog who dreams of being a pigeon. 

The two-minute commercial, released on social media at 7am today and premiering on TV this weekend, shows how small acts of kindness can alleviate loneliness and bring joy to people who are quietly struggling.

Told through a series of nine interconnecting vignettes, the advert follows a chain reaction of good deeds that change someone else’s life in small but meaningful ways. 

Helping hand: The advert starts with a little boy whose football has gotten stuck in a tree and is helped by a little girl dressed in yellow

Sharing the love: The girl opens up her heart-shaped umbrella, which will be on sale via John Lewis, and it floats up to the tree

Each scene is done in a different style, from hand-drawn animation to claymation and cinematography.

The idea was inspired by the spontaneous acts of kindness that swept across the country at the start of lockdown. 

There are no direct references to the pandemic like face masks or social distancing, but the advert still aims to ‘talk to the mood of the nation’. 

Mixed reviews: The advert has divided opinion, with some viewers saying it is ‘moving’ and is ‘just the message we need’. But some were left disappointed with the offering

Claire Pointon, customer director for John Lewis, said: ‘We deliberately said “let’s not take it too close to the real world”. People don’t want to look in the mirror and see what we’ve been going through.’ 

Instead the focus is on giving back, inspired by the ‘spontaneous acts of kindness in our communities’ at the start of lockdown. 

Viewers are asked to ‘Give a Little Love’ and help John Lewis & Partners in their mission to raise at least £5million for two charities, Home-Start and FareShare.

The advert has divided opinion, with some viewers saying it is ‘moving’ and is ‘just the message we need’. But some were left disappointed with the offering, saying it was ‘disappointing’ just ‘like the rest of 2020’. 

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