While there is a whole line up of conservatory-trained British female vocalists back in her home country of England, Birmingham-born Laura Mvula is no Adele or Emeli Sande. “I’d like to think I’m unique,” she said on the phone from Hamburg where she was on tour.
Her music has been labelled as R&B, neo-soul and gospel, but she describes her music as soulful. “The songs are written from the heart. It’s a little bit orchestral.”
The 27-year-old has been steadily gaining momentum, being shortlisted for the prestigious 2013 Brits Critic’s Choice Award, and playing at Glastonbury earlier this year.
How she got started was thanks to her previous work. She was a receptionist for an orchestra and a temporary music teacher. “The receptionist job was pretty boring after a few weeks. Eventually I decided I would use the time to write my own material. Boredom pushed me out of the job,” she recalled.
That material has become songs, such as the delightfully bright, tinkling ‘Green Garden’, and the slow-burning ‘She’ which served as the first two singles on her debut album ‘Sing to the Moon’.
The velvet-voiced singer remains humble. She said: “A lot of exciting things have happened. I was excited to record the album. That was kind of a miracle for me because I had never done anything like that before. I had never been in a studio before. When I saw the album finished, that was a huge deal for me”.
While the studio album needed about 22 musicians to pull off the “mini orchestra sound” as described by Mvula, in her live shows, it’s a much smaller set-up with just six people in her band. It’s a bit of a family affair, with her brother James on cello and sister Dionne on violin. “You can expect us trying to achieve a really big sound with just the seven of us, which is our main challenge,” she added.
This will be Mvula’s first time in Singapore. When told she was on the same billing as big names such as Tom Jones and Bob Geldof, she was pleasantly surprised. “I didn’t know that was the line-up, so that’s good news!” she said.
She admitted: “Everything is very overwhelming. Everything kind of happened very quickly. I’m always going to new places. I’ve never been to Singapore, so that will be a new experience. I think it’s a good thing. It’s exciting.”
Laura Mvula at 2013 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix | Date and time: 20 September 2013, 8.30pm (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre Stage); 21 Sep, 10.10pm (Village Stage); 22 Sep, 6.55pm (Paddock Club Lifestyle Stage) | Tickets $48-$1,288 from www.singaporegp.sg