As lead singer of indie-disco trio Gossip, non-conformist Beth Ditto became just as famous for challenging the perceptions of female beauty and sexuality as she did for her spell bindingly raw gospel-soul voice.
Born Mary Beth Patterson in 1981, she grew up in a tiny house in Searcy, AK with her large family, before moving to Washington at the age of 18, where she teamed up with guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie to form post-punk outfit the Gossip. After being named "the coolest person in rock" by NME, one of three publications she posed nude for (alongside erotica magazine On Our Backs and London style bible Love), the band broke through to the mainstream with their third album's title track, "Standing In the Way of Control," written by Ditto as a response to the U.S. government's ban on gay marriage. Ditto's larger than life, uncompromising image turned her into an unlikely fashion icon, a development which resulted in her opening Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring Collection at the 2010 Paris Fashion Week, and creating her own collection for U.K. retailer Evans. After providing guest vocals on records by Calvin Johnson ( "Lightning Rod for Jesus" ), Simian Mobile Disco ("Cruel Intentions") and Jarvis Cocker (a duet cover version of Heaven 17's "Temptation"), she released her own solo debut self-titled EP in 2011. Ditto also has her own advice column in British broadsheet The Guardian, launched a campaign to ban the clothing "size zero", and formed supergroup Crisis with Paul Weller and Graham Coxon to raise money for a homeless charity. ~ Jon O'Brien