After vaulting to fame as a founding member of the beloved indie pop collective Belle & Sebastian, Isobel Campbell enjoyed success as a solo artist, recording lush and elegiac chamber pop under her given name, under the moniker the Gentle Waves, and with longstanding duet partner Mark Lanegan. Born April 27, 1976, in Glasgow, Scotland, Campbell studied classical cello as an adolescent. At the age of 19, she met aspiring singer/songwriter Stuart Murdoch at a New Year's party, and although their romance proved brief, she nevertheless agreed to participate in a planned recording session sponsored by Stow College's Music Business Administration curriculum. Dubbed Belle & Sebastian in honor of a beloved children's book and attendant animated series, the group issued just 1,000 copies of its 1996 debut LP, Tigermilk. Its shimmering, literate folk-pop immediately earned a worldwide cult following that further expanded with the release of If You're Feeling Sinister later that same year.
On 1998's The Boy with the Arab Strap, Campbell delivered her first lead vocal, "Is It Wicked Not to Care?" With her ethereal voice and striking, Jean Seberg-inspired looks, it was inevitable that she earned much attention from fans and media alike, and in the spring of 1999 she released her first full-length solo project, the Gentle Waves' The Green Fields of Foreverland.... A second and final Gentle Waves release, Swansong for You, followed a year later, but Campbell nevertheless remained a full-time member of Belle & Sebastian through mid-2002, co-writing the Top 20 U.K. hit "Legal Man" before finally exiting just prior to the release of Ghost of Yesterday, a collection of Billie Holiday covers recorded in collaboration with jazz musician Bill Wells.