Born in Manchester to an Afro-American father and a Seychellois mother, Gizelle Smith honed her skills as a singer and trumpeter performing with a number of big bands. After earning a master's in film composition, she moved to London to work as a composer and singing tutor for an independent theatre company. In 2009, she released her first album, Gizelle Smith & the Mighty Mocambos, recorded with a funk group in Hamburg, Germany. It includes the cut Working Woman, which was a big hit in soul and funk clubs. In 2010, Smith spread the word about the disc with a European tour that took her to Paris, Berlin, Milan, Marseille and Manchester. The following year, she made her Festival debut.