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Ask Esther Eden what she’s up to and she’ll give you one of two answers: She’s getting ready to sit for her high school exams, or she’s gearing up to release her debut album.

Both are true.

The 18-year-old singer doesn’t have a release date yet (the eight-track album will be a mix of slow songs and dance tracks), but she already dropped her airy, feel-good lead single, Phoenix, a song about rising up no matter what gets you down.

Eden, who signed to Universal Music MENA in November, said the upbeat tune was inspired by the women that made a change in her life. One of those is her mum, with whom she has a matching Phoenix tattoo. (For Eden, it’s a symbol of overcoming online bullying a couple of years ago.)

The UAE-based, Indian-born singer talks to tabloid! about keeping it positive and the pop star who changed her life.

Where were you when you heard your song on the radio for the first time?

I was about to fall asleep, but then I got a notification that said Radio 1 tagged me in a post, which said they were going to play my song in 10 minutes. I was so excited.

Who’s the most influential woman in your life?

I know everyone says their mother, but I have reason to be so grateful to her. She not only brought me up single-handedly, but was the person who exposed me to different kinds of music. She was a jazz singer herself and watching her perform was part of my childhood. Besides doing the normal motherly duties she also is my mumager and takes care of my career.

What are some of the themes you touch on in the album?

My songs are about what a young girl my age would go through. I write about my own experience. Most of my songs are positive and always look at the bright side of things. Once I pen a song, I never go back to it to make any corrections or changes. I keep to the flow that made me write the song in the first place.

What’s your favourite song that you’ve written on the album, other than Phoenix?

Is This Love? is definitely my favourite. It’s the song that impressed Jessie J and got me a ticket to perform at her show. It is also the first song I had ever written.

Tell us about your encounter with Jessie — what was that like for you?

It was like a dream — things moved so fast. One minute I was pleading for a chance to perform my original song, the next minute Jessie J was recording me and then inviting me to sing at her concert. [Jessie J was visiting Eden’s school before a RedFestDXB performance]. Many do not know, but the following summer (2014) when we went on holiday to China, Jessie J, by some coincidence, was performing near to the hotel we stayed in Beijing. We messaged her and she kept us two VIP front row seats to watch her perform. It was surreal and sort of destiny. I feel our paths will cross again!

What’s next for Esther Eden? What are you working on now?

I have my 13th grade exams coming up so right now am preparing for that. I hope to go to Berklee’s [College of Music] for [their] summer programme. I hope to reach an international level as a musician and be someone that UAE is proud of.

*Check out the lyric video for Phoenix on her official YouTube channel, EstherEdenVevo.