Artist Watch: Laura Mvula

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It seems I'm favoring the British these days. Something is in the aqua, I'm telling you. They are doing this whole future retro soul thing so perfectly that it's making us Americans look like amateurs and hacks. Not to diss on the red, white, and blue, but the British are definitely coming from all sides at us at recent.

We know of Beverley Knight, Des'reeAdele, and the late great Amy Winehouse who have flung open the doors, but the next class wave of soulful chanteuses are hot on the heels to uphold the tradition. You should know their names --- Jessie Ware, Delilah, Emeli Sande, Natalie Duncan, Andreya Triana, Lianne La Havas, Alice Russell...need I go on? All of them are twisting, bending, and sculpting soul into their own creations. Squeezing on in to this elite group is Laura Mvula, a fresh out of Birmingham singer/songwriter/pianist whose got some stories to weave of her own. I first became aware by single "Green Garden", and an enchanting tapestry of hand-clapping harmonious soul that evokes some Stateside earthy charm a la Georgia Anne MuldrowMeshell Ndegeocello, and yes, the legendary Nina Simone. And it is nothing short of brilliant.

Mvula is on paths to success as she was shortlisted for the 2013 Brit Awards annual Critics Choice Award and finished fourth on BBC's Sound of 2013 list, and has since gotten praise for her debut 4-track EP, She. All in all not shabby. Mvula's full-length debut, Sing To The Moon will be arriving right around the corner (March 4th to be exact) and if you need to play catch up like me, then graze in a stream of "Green Garden" over at her SoundCloud page as well as indulge in the truly beautiful performance of "She" to hear Mvula's spectacular vocal range just soar and soar...


  1. Thanks for the write up on Laura Mvula - I have been following her and like you anxiously await the album. I very much agree that the British women in particular have really thrown down the gauntlet about being creative in soul outside of the boxes we sometimes operate in on this side of the pond: every name you mentioned on that list (and I love them all) are soulful in their own ways and Laura Mvula is no exception --her mix with her a classical sound--among other elements - is something different. Check out the video for She as well - a beautiful, simple video done in South Africa I believe (with a South African director.
    I am also glad you mentioned Natalie Duncan on the list - of all the ones mentioned - she is the least known and definitely extremely talented and deserving of being more known here.

  2. Sorry for a double post (this is the only time) One last name I would add to your list - which is rightfully open-ended - is Josephine Oniyama. Her soulful take on folk is something to take notice of. Hopefully as these artists become more known here it will also inspire some of our artists to take some more creative risks outside the box - even in the face of lack of major label support (I realize there are those of course who do that already but you are right - the British have stepped up their game). And, I'm very much looking forward to Alice Russell's latest.

    1. Replying to both of your comments :) No prob, I had been hearing nothing but good things about Laura Mvula and was totally entranced by "Green Garden" that I HAD to write about her. Wow. What a voice. And yes, I agree, I hope these artists inspire others to take risks, but things seems (still) so stilted in the mainstream. There are exceptions, but the indie's are winning this round for me.

      Oh, I would def. add Josephine in there as well! I just felt I was adding WAY too many names that I had to stop myself, lol! But yes, Josephine is a contender too. I haven't gotten around to listening to her debut album, but I hope too soon because I love love the singles she put out esp. "Original Love". Now she's got a unique tone to her voice.


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