I was blown away when I first came across British singer Laura Mvula in 2013. Loving music since the early 1960s and writing about it for more than 30 years, hearing Laura made me feel excited about music again, as she’s so phenomenally talented, innovative and soulful.
I was mesmerized when I heard a few tracks early on and then had to stop listening after a while because I couldn’t get them out of my head. It’s the voice, the tone, her use of space, imaginative arrangements and instrumentation and subject matter. And of course she’s British and I hope America will wake up to her talent – the Grammy folks failed to even nominate her.
Imagine a cross between Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan and Bjork with the harmonies of the Beach Boys. She’s been hailed as the next Adele, but I think she’s better in many ways. Classically trained she employs unusual instrumentation like harps and celestes, creating strange, serpentine melodies, music that is mysterious, complex, rich and idiosyncratic.
The UK’s Daily Telegraph hailed her brilliant debut album “Sing To the Moon,” as “one of the most striking and original debuts from any British artist.”
The UK Independent praised: “Drawing on anything from Medieval plainsong to free jazz, she creates an extraordinary sensation of light, air, and space.”
An an NPR review noted: “The very first notes on Laura Mvula’s new album feel like a powerful invocation. You’re not sure for what, but the moment is awesome.”
Born in Birmingham, her mother is from St. Kitt’s in the Caribbean and her father is from Jamaica. She graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire at the Birmingham City University with a degree in composition.
In August 2014, Laura released an orchestral re-recording of her debut album in collaboration with the 52-piece Dutch Metropole Orkest.
In March this year, cinemas across the UK as well as in Europe, Latin America and North America screened a recent concert by the singer at the Paradisio in Amsterdam, complete with The Metropole Orkest and the Concensus Vocalis choir.
The Sunday Times music critic praised: “This is one of the most compelling in-concert films ever made. It makes you feel like you were actually present in the venue, and sets a new gold standard for the genre.”
In May she hosted the BBC TV documentary, “Nina Simone and Me with Laura Mvula.” It’s available on YouTube.
She has recorded a duet “Water Under Bridges,” with the great Gregory Porter, featured on a newly expanded version of his album “Liquid Spirit.” And Prince is obviously a fan. He recently played her magnificent song “Green Garden” in concert in Detroit.
Laura’s “Green Garden” video has more than 3 million views – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5akYnlwubDo
The stunning “She,” shot in South Africa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG8dCuMibdI
You can hear French DJ producer Monsieur Adi’s epic take on “Green Garden” here. http://www.prefixmag.com/news/download-monsieur-adis-remix-of-laura-mvulas-green/72912/