by AIGERIM SAPAROVA
Musician: LAURA MVULA
Hometown: Birmingham, United Kingdom
Ethnic Roots: Caribbean; Mvula is the surname of her Zambian husband Themba
Music 101: Classically trained at the Birmingham Conservatoire
Album Name/Release Date: Sing to the Moon/March 12, 2013
Label: Sony/RCA Records
Mix Master: Mvula’s debut album is mixed by UK engineer, Tom Elmhirst, who’s based at the Electric Lady Studios in New York. He’s worked with Adele, Amy Winehouse, The Black Keys, Florence & The Machine, Emeli Sandé, Mark Ronson, and Cee Lo Green, among others. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Mvula muses: “It feels like being the geeky kid and being welcomed into this cool, polished R&B world.”
Sounds Like: Something along the lines of haunting, flowering soul caressed by the natural acoustics of wind chimes and the bright heat of a lovely summer’s day. Mvula composes “sound sketches” on her laptop using GarageBand. She further explains, “there’s nothing I love more in the world than layering voices.”
Here are two awesome videos to get you hip to Laura Mvula’s sound:
A refreshing, catchy, and inevitably spirit-lifting tune. Whilst listening to the song, close your eyes and imagine doing everything that Mvula sings about: “I’ll fly on the wings of a butterfly high as a tree top and down again putting my bag down | taking my shoes off | walk in the carpet of green velvet.” What could be better than that?
Warning: Expect the tune to make home in your head for a while. You’ll find it hard to resist clapping your hands and tapping your feet in time with the great hallelujah dance moves in the video. Check out her lively rendition of “Green Garden” earlier this month on the Graham Norton show here.
Five years back, Mvula’s parents divorced – a separation that resulted in silence between her father and her up until this day. It seems like this track is a record of her pain. Mvula shares with The Guardian, “These songs have been a fantastic therapy for me. I needed to write them.”
As the background choir sings and the beat mimics a rapid heartbeat, the regal Mvula looks out into an unknown distance, singing of a worn-down hopelessness —“She walked towards you with her head down low | She wondered if there was a way out of the Blue.” With that, you cannot help but absorb a bit of her melancholy. If you dig “She” – you’ll also fall in love with “Can’t Live With the World” and “Like the Morning Dew.”
For more on Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon, check out her website here.