Like Matt Willis, Kenzie, and Kerry Katona before her, Alesha Dixon became a household name not through her music, but thanks to an appearance on a reality show. One of seven children born to an English mother and Jamaican father, Dixon grew up in Welwyn Garden City and initially planned to become a physical education teacher. After completing a diploma course, she was about to take a position at Loughborough University when she was approached on a train by a record producer, asking if she could sing. Putting her degree on hold, she spent the next few years trying to set up various girl bands without much success. Working in a factory packing toothpaste to fund her musical ambitions, she eventually met Sabrina Washington at Dance Attic, a jazz/hip-hop dance academy in West London. The duo recorded a demo together, "Inspiration," before meeting Su-Elise Nash, who joined with Dixon and Washington to form the Mis-Teeq trio. Mis-Teeq signed to Telstar Records and, after fourth member Zena McNally joined, the group released its debut single, "Why," in 2001.