Imagine an artist with the feminist philosophy of Beyonce and the vocal prowess of Nina Simone. A woman with the style of Erykah Badu and the badassery of M.I.A. Someone with talent, power and a message that transcends typical pop music.
Laura Mvula is that artist. A British vocalist with years of classical music training, Mvula gained international fame after releasing her debut album "Sing to the Moon" in 2013. Two albums and nine awards later, Mvula has collaborated with the likes of Snarky Puppy and Esperanza Spalding. She has lent her voice to events aimed at positive political change and recently composed the music for an entire Royal Shakespeare Company production.
Mvula is the sort of artist who heals through music-- the depth of her emotional toil is evident in the lyrics of her compositions. "I'm flying without you/I'm fine now without you/I've found something better/I love more than ever", Mvula proclaims over a mounting crescendo of string instruments in a rerecording of her first album. Released in 2014, Laura Mvula & the Metropole Orkest features thirteen of Mvula's original compositions backed by 52 classical musicians. Each track on the album has the feel of an epic film score with richly layered melodies that support Mvula's impressive vocal chops.
Her second studio album, The Dreaming Room, is both a musical and emotional feat. Comprised of twelve original compositions, Mvula continues her tradition of collaborating with musical heavyweights, including funk genius Nile Rodgers, as well as jazz legend John Scofield. Signs of personal struggle and turbulence are also evident in this music. In a year when the singer's marriage fell apart and her long-term battle with severe anxiety finally bubbled over, Mvula describes turning to these dark moments as a source of inspiration. In an interview with the Guardian, Mvula described The Dreaming Room as "a beast of an album", noting that "music has been a way to grieve about my marriage, and make sense of what it means that my life has changed”. Having emerged from that strife stronger than ever, Mvula also released a short documentary about living with anxiety and how it has impacted her life and career.
In January of this year, Laura Mvula found out via email that her contract with Sony Records would not be renewed. After some initial shock, Mvula reflected on some sage advice she received from a dear friend, the late R&B powerhouse Prince: "find the means to own your own thing and do it yourself... It's now time for a new season for me, as an independent artist, which is really more true to who I am and what I do." There is little doubt that Laura Mvula will continue to do incredible things, since she really is a phenomenal woman.
For further reading: Bitch Media: "Laura Mvula Celebrates Female Power"