Last updated: 06/15/2012 11:00:00 AM
Following in the sophisticated footsteps of Carla Bruni rather than the ill-advised musical forays of Naomi Campbell, Imany is one of the few supermodels to make the transition from the catwalk to the recording studio appear effortless. Born Nadia Mladjao in 1979 in the Comoros Islands, off the southeast coast of Africa, she grew up in France, where she initially started out as a successful high jumper before being signed by the Ford Models Europe Agency. After several years of traveling around the world, including a six-year stint in the U.S., she returned to France to pursue her lifelong ambition of becoming a singer. Inspired by the likes of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Tracy Chapman, she began performing a blend of acoustic folk and soulful blues under the guise of Imany (Swahili for "hope") in various Parisian nightclubs and jazz bars, before releasing her debut EP, Acoustic Sessions. After supporting Ben l'Oncle Soul and Angie Stone on their European tours, she worked with producer Malick N'Diaye (Ayo) on her first album, The Shape of a Broken Heart, which was released to critical acclaim in 2011.