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Jazzing up sultry soul - Laura Mvula

There’s no doubt about it. Top of pretty much everyone bar Simon Cowell’s ‘people to watch in 2013’ list is Laura Mvula. She made the shortlists for both the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, voted for by industry insiders, and the Brits Critics' Choice award, previous recipients of which include Jessie J, Emeli Sandé, Florence + the Machine and Adele.

Virtually unknown a couple of months ago, her soulful flows and rich musical flourishes have seen her make many a cynical critic beam with fresh faced innocence. The 26 year old has honed a cosmopolitan yet passionate soul infused with the soft twinkles of jazz and despite denying she has a good voice, the trail she is currently blazing seems set to take 2013 by storm.

March will see the release of her debut album, crammed full of emotion and musical variety – drawing on sounds as diverse as strings, horns, double bass, harp, timpani, celeste and tubular bells.

After her musical foundations were laid at the Birmingham Conservatoire, she bloomed despite having a slight complex about the simplicity of her jazz fuelled melodics in a world of orchestral complexity. Luckily her teacher knew talent when he saw it and broke down her reservations with belief and encouragement. Taking on a day job as receptionist for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, she followed her own path to a symphonic tapestry.

Growing up in a deeply religious household where pop music was strictly off limits, her father and her fell out and haven’t spoken for 5 years as rebellion and the unforgiving spin of one generation into another took hold. She has harnessed the sadness into her music, giving it a profound depth and power and recognises the roots he gave her – both musically and as a person. Whether her music will speak back to him in the same way as it does to a sophisticated public is the tantalizing twist in this tale. Look out for her.

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