Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Laura Mvula: Singing to the moon with a beautiful heart, soul and voice

On her debut album, Sing to the Moon, the British singer/songwriter Laura Mvula not only taps into the sound of vintage '60s soul, she really stands out in the spotlight.

I learned of Mvula only last month when I heard Morning Becomes Eclectic host Jason Bentley rave about her music, which unconventionally pairs neo-soul with orchestral pop, and her voice, calling her a "revelation."

Soon, thereafter, NPR profiled the chanteuse, noting that her songs "sound like the whole world at once.

"Equally adept at radiating joy ("Like the Morning Dew"), articulating a socially conscious mission statement ("That's Alright"), and singing sweet ballads (the harp-infused "Can't Live With the World"), Mvula radiates the world confidence of a singer twice her age," wrote NPR's Stephen Thompson.

Mvula, 26, grew up in Birmingham, England as "a regular girl" in a musical family. She has two younger siblings who play in her touring band, which includes strings and horns. She is a classically-trained singer, who graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire, and has sung in acapella choirs.

Mvula sings with a voice that is as distinctive as it is different. Think about the first time you heard Adele or Amy Winehouse or, for those of you old enough to remember, Nina Simone. How do I best describe Mvula's fantastic voice? Well, it is breathtakingly amazing ~ there's a neo-soul mentality to it, influenced by Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill ~ and Mvula's gentle-but-powerful song lyrics are heartfelt. And, there are those infectious vocal harmonies found in many of her songs, such as "Like the Morning Dew," the first track on Sing to the Moon, that would do the Beach Boys proud.

Recently, Mvula gave her U.S. radio debut as she performed live on the Morning Becomes Eclectic show, which originates from public radio station KCRW-FM (Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-noon Pacific Time / 4-7 p.m. GMT) in Santa Monica, Calif., and is simulcast worldwide via KCRW.com. For a limited time, KCRW offering a free download of the magnificent "Sing to the Moon."

"I love the version of "Sing to the Moon" that appears on Laura Mvula's debut album, but when I heard her perform it live at KCRW it became an intimate story performed so delicately that it's heartbreaking," KCRW host Anne Litt wrote on the station's website. "During her interview for Morning Becomes Eclectic, she revealed that this song was inspired by an autobiography of a 1950's jazz singer called Adelaide Hall whose father told her to 'sing to the moon, and the stars will shine.' "

Indeed, Sing to the Moon is a celebration of Laura Mvula's beautiful and soulful voice. The stars are shining tonight.

* * * 

Sing to the Moon is currently available digitally via iTunes and Amazon.com, and the CD and vinyl version debuts on May 14.

To see videos from the Sing to the Moon album, go to : http://www.lauramvula.com/video.

Video of "Sing to the Moon" courtesy of KCRW.com.

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