Julia Zahra was born in Indianapolis USA but raised in The Netherlands. At 25, she has achieved many things as she has won ‘The Voice of Holland’ at just 18, the youngest singer to ever audition for and win the show, and then in 2015 winning a show called ‘The Best Singers of Holland’.
Now, it’s time to find her own direction and try to find recognition outside of Holland. She has, since those shows, released critically acclaimed music of her own and toured extensively in Oceania where she’s garnered quite a following. Julia was speaking with Steve Holley.
Lucy Spraggan releases album number six today and it’s an album that comes from the soul. Most artists will have, at some point in their career, the record that changes everything for them. It might not be the album with the most success, or the album with the most hits but it will be that album where everything seems to come together, where the lessons learned from everything that comes previously enables something forged in real honesty, in real emotion. For me, this will be that album for Lucy; the record that becomes the touchstone for everything that will inevitably follow, the bar against which everything else will be compared.
Imelda May is surely one of our best songwriters. Having been born and raised in Dublin, she began her career at 16 performing locally. Now, on the eve of releasing her sixth studio album ‘11 Past the Hour’, she is known worldwide and critically acclaimed. She has worked with some of the world’s greatest producers and artists and when releasing the debut single from this new album was able to call upon friends Noel Gallagher and Ronnie Wood to collaborate. She really is that rare thing of being an artist’s artist.
Cha:dy is a Parisian alt-jazz singer who, last week, released new single ‘Lazy’. Taken from a forthcoming EP, it shines a light on young people suffering with mental health. Having suffered herself, Cha:dy was able to tap into her innermost emotions to write a song that is as honest as it is moving. Steve Holley had the chance to speak with Cha:dy.
It’s four years since we heard new music from Imelda May and so today has been an eagerly awaited release date. Imelda May is a globally revered Irish artist who brings it all. Jazz, rockabilly, blues and rock’n’roll are the musical DNA of an artist who started singing blues inspired by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday and then as she developed into one of our best songwriters seemed to be influenced by the honesty and emotion of writers like Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and, of course, the legend that is Phil Lynott. When these influences are thrown into a musical cauldron and mixed with a voice that oozes raw emotion, the results are pure witchcraft.
Katie Kittermaster releases her second single of the year on Friday, 22 January. ‘Lukewarm Lover’ is a song that, while staying true to the usual honesty of the artists lyrical style, takes a more mainstream pop approach. The contrast between lyrical content and melody offer the perfect imagery of putting on a brave face whilst under a breezy exterior there is often deep emotion and conflict.
Greg Price is a man on a mission. Also known as Layabout, the vocalist and bass guitarist from South London is making music for a new generation. With co songwriter Pharaoh Black and vocalist Robyn a new genre is being created in a place steeped in the history of some of the most famous Pirates. Punk Reggae is a genre that takes the legacy of Jamaica’s rich history of trade and anarchy and unleashes it in musical form. Not trying to be anything old but with respect of the past, not trying to be something other than a new music for an ever changing world but forged in the culture of Jamaica but with a hint of South London swagger. I was lucky enough to chat to bassist and co creator of Layabout Black about this new adventure and found him to be knowledgeable, hopeful and creative. A polite savage making music to transport you to a different place. Enjoy.
Katie Kittermaster, like so many young artists, had an amazing year planned last year. Signing with Revanche records in June 2020 she was booked to support The Crash Test Dummies in Germany and Holland in May, booked to play 17 UK festivals in the summer of 2020 along with opening for Kaiser Chiefs, Soul ll Soul, Scouting For Girls, Gabrielle and Rick Astley. But then came Covid 19 and, like countless artists the world over, everything was put on hold. Rather than bemoan the veritable loss of what could have been a breakthrough year she got to work on writing virtually, recording and looking to broaden her musical horizons.
The Mavericks, the Miami band famous for being able to cross so many boundaries between Americana, Country and Rock’n’Roll have this year added a new string to their multiple CMA and Grammy award winning bow. They have released a record entirely in Spanish. ‘En Español’ is quite simply The Mavericks in Spanish and is such a tour de force that it landed at #22 in the UK indie chart, #6 in the UK Americana chart as well as topping Billboard’s Latin Pop Album Chart. This incredible album is produced by the irrepressible lead singer Raul Malo with long time collaborator Niko Bolas, who has produced such greats as Neil Young, Prince and Sheryl Crow.
SKYE is probably best known as the lead singer of the iconic Morcheeba but recently she has embarked upon a new initiative. She has joined forces with a collection of incredible female vocalists on an album to accompany, or rather complement, the stories from the books ‘Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls’. The books are a wonderful collection which highlight remarkable women and their extraordinary lives. Empowering, moving and inspirational stories are made all the more powerful by the addition of the incredible illustrations by sixty female artists from around the world.
Katie Kittermaster is a singer songwriter from Kent who has recently been making real waves. This year would have been a very busy one with live dates a plenty in her own right and as a supporting act for some substantiated names in the industry. She toured with a recent interviewee of mine, Lucy Spraggan, and is about to release her new single, a cover of the classic ‘Every Breath You Take’. I was lucky enough to be able to ask her a few questions about what she’s been up to, the single and the sumptuous backdrop of the video to accompany it. Katie’s version of the song comes from a different place to the original and works beautifully.
Jack Conman is a 20 year old Manchester based singer-songwriter who has slowly been gathering plaudits from Huw Stevens on BBC Radio 1 as well as appearing at their Big Weekend music festival. He has well over a million streams on Spotify for his previous single Oxytocin and gathered a loyal following after appearing on the inspirational YouTube channel COLORS.
Chris Stapleton is a five time Grammy winner, ten time CMA award and seven time ACM award winner. So to say that a new album from him is a Country music event is an understatement. In fact, such is the respect that this Kentucky born artist is held in across the board, this is quite simply a music event.
I’m a self confessed lover of soundtrack music. The first vinyl I ever bought was the soundtrack from ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For A Few Dollars More’ by Ennio Morricone. That led to ‘Great Western Film Themes Collection’, and ‘ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’, and I was hooked. These days I have over 150 soundtracks on vinyl and a majority of these are Morricone. So, when I got the chance to chat with Sacha Puttnam: classical musician, soundtrack composer and rock keyboard playing son of legendary movie producer Lord David Puttnam, it’s hard to underestimate my excitement. Add to that the fact that he is just about to release a stunning collection of reimagined soundtrack music from some of his father’s greatest films, which unsurprisingly number among some of the greatest films ever, and you may still underestimate.
This Friday, the super talented Liv Austen will release a song that I think is very important to her in so many ways because it is born of this love. ‘Why Don’t You’ is a song that tells us we should be as generous to ourselves as we are with the outside world. It is a song that on first hearing sounds like advice but on repeated listening evolves into a mission statement from the singer to herself.