British Artist, Leigh-Anne Pinnock On Colourism Finding Freedom And Reuniting Girl Group, Little Mix

"There was a time when pop stars weren't really allowed to say anything."

British quartet Little Mix were assembled on the UK’s X Factor in 2011, transcending their TV origins to sell over 60 million records worldwide, three million concert tickets and over 15 billion streams on Spotify.

In classic girl band fashion, one member jettisoned themselves – Jesy Nelson – in 2020. They continued on as a three piece before announcing a hiatus – not a split – in 2022, leading to solo careers.

Now Leigh-Anne Pinnock is tapping into her R&B roots with her latest release, an EP No Hard Feelings.

“I wanted to follow my heart and bring something you wouldn’t have seen in Little Mix. Something new. I’ve found my freedom, I feel there’s no rules.”

Pinnock is leaning into her Barbadian and Jamaican heritage, as well as discussing her long-distance relationship with husband Andre Gray. The footballer plays in the Saudi Pro league, while she remains in London raising their twin girls, who were born in August 2021.

“I can’t be a workaholic anymore. They need a lot of my energy. There’s never the perfect amount of balance, but I’m happiest I’ve ever been, they have literally made my world.”

In 2021, Pinnock mixed pop and politics on the award-winning BBC documentary Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop and Power.

She revealed the colourism she experienced from the music industry as a mixed-race woman. Last year her memoir Believe aimed to empower women, revealing in her youth she’d almost got a nose job.

“Thank God I didn’t, I love my nose. But when you’re younger and in a girl group, you’re comparing yourself to others and thinking you have to look a certain way. You don’t have to live by European beauty standards, everyone is different and unique.

“Having such a huge white audience puts me in a position to educate. If I wasn’t using my platform for that I don’t think I’d be fulfilling a purpose. There was a time when pop stars weren’t really allowed to say anything. It’d be a case of ‘Yeah you’re in a girl band, what do you know?’ Actually, no, we’re intelligent and we do have an opinion and what we say can travel and influence people and inspire young girls coming up, so it’s important.”

(From left) Jessica Louise Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Louise Edwards and Jade Amelia Thirlwall performing in British band Little Mix. (Image: Getty).

While Leigh-Anne has an album planned – along with solo releases by bandmates Perrie and Jade Thirwell, the Little Mix hiatus won’t be permanent.

“I love the friendships in our group but it was the right time, we couldn’t go on any longer without exploring our own things. We’ve left on a high, we’re sisters and we always will be, so I can definitely see a (reunion) on the horizon, how can we not? But not just yet.”

No Hard Feelings EP is out now.

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