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Critically acclaimed singer performs hometown gig
It's a family affair when soulful singer Laura Mvula goes on tour.
The Birmingham-born 27-year-old is joined on stage by brother James and sister Dionne who are part of her band. James plays the cello and sings, while Dionne is a violinist and also contributes backing vocals.
''Their presence is helping me to keep sane and to enjoy the good things that are happening,'' Laura admits. ''They protect me, we're very close, I trust them so much. And of course we love the music so we're having an amazing time. It's an amazing privilege when you think about it.''
Laura, James and Dionne will perform at Birmingham Institute on October 8 alongside bassist Karl Rasheed-Abel, harpist Iona Thomas and drummer and musical director Troy Miller. The show is part of a UK tour that will help make 2013 an unforgettable year for Laura.
After releasing her debut album, Sing To The Moon, in March Laura toured Britain, played a string of festival dates in Europe and wowed the crowds at Glastonbury, T in the Park and the Urban Proms. She now has shows lined up in America and Canada.
''One of the main highlights was recording with Jamie Cullum in Abbey Road. He invited me to record a song with him for his new album, Momentum,'' she reveals.
Laura graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with a degree in composition and gained valuable performance experience with a cappella group Black Voices and her own band, Judyshouse. After a short time as a music teacher at Queensbridge school in Moseley she began work as a receptionist at Birmingham's CBSO Centre. In her free time she composed songs, including She and Green Garden. A demo tape of the songs found its way to producer Steve Brown who encouraged Laura to write more – which she did and they recorded the album Sing To The Moon.
Laura explains how she goes about writing a song.
''Usually I improvise at the piano and sometimes I've been organised enough that I've got lyrics on my phone. I always put lyric ideas on my phone so I'll find the lyrics that captivate. I'll try and work with a harmonics progression that makes musical sense to me and use that as a foundation.''
But she admits that her music, which is influenced by jazz, classical and gospel, is not easy for her band to perform.
''We're getting there now but initially it was a disaster,'' she laughs. ''I'm very privileged to have Troy Miller, who used to drum for Amy Winehouse, as my musical director. He's a producer and composer in his own right so he knows what he's talking about. He and I had to get our heads together just to figure out how on earth we were going to be able to do this. I think we're getting there!''