Ester Dean Is Scared Of Mary J. Blige

In-demand singer/songwriter Ester Dean is used to the spotlight.

The colorful Oklahoma-native, who’s penned hits for everyone from the Pussycat Dolls (“Whatcha Think About That”) and Ciara (“Never Ever”) to Keyshia Cole (“Make me Over”) and Chris Brown (“I Love You”), is currently finishing up her own debut release with platinum producer Polow Da Don.

“If I’m not working… I feel like I’m a bum [laughs],” Dean muses of her hectic time in the studio. “Right now everyone’s talking about a song I wrote for Rihanna called ‘Rude Boy,’ which was a fun experience to be involved in. I love the fact that artists respect my hard work and talent.”

Still, that doesn’t mean Dean doesn’t get starstruck from time to time.

“I’m not intimidated [by anyone], but when I get next to Mary J. Blige she makes me emotional,” says Dean, who wrote several songs for the veteran vocalist’s latest album Stronger With Each Tear, including the single “I Am.” “I remember going to a party and Akon took me over to her to say hi to Mary. And she’s like, ‘Dean!’ I’m at this party with all of these celebrities and Mary has her arms open for me? I’m like, ‘Wow, shut the fuck up’! Mary is telling me to sit at the table with her and I’m like ‘I’m good’ because something about her just seems so big. It’s scary.”

Dean’s untitled debut release is tentatively set to drop this summer.—Keith Murphy