Your 100% British Soul Extravaganza!
BRITISH soul music is in a very, very good place at the moment and one of the leading lights of the scene is the wonderful Sam Smith, who has just announced a big ol’ UK tour for Spring 2015.
Smith just reached number one in the album charts and is currently being wooed by America, which will either make him or break him into a puddle of nervous breakdown.
Of course, Sam Smith isn’t the first soul singer Britain has produced, but his success is worth looking back at some of Blighty’s finest balladeers and belters.
Britain has a much richer seam of soul music (and blue-eyed soul) than you think. Of course, Adele conquered the entire world and Beverley Knight has stuck it out for years.
Let’s have a look at some of the best.
The current champion of Britsoul, Sam Smith, who has cut a fine furrow himself, along with making some great songs with Disclosure and Chic’s Nile Rodgers.
If there was a title for the greatest British soul singer of all time, Amy Winehouse would absolutely be in with a shout. Dead too young, but with a couple of killer albums released in her lifetime, making the rest of pop immediately up its game.
MNEK has gone from writing for others to making a go of it himself and, by God, we’ve needed him. Mixing ’90s R&B sensibilities with modern pop and dance music, he’s creating some of the best music in the world right now and if we don’t make a megastar out of him, we frankly don’t deserve the ears on our heads and the ass in our pants.
Cymande are an overlooked London funk outfit from the ’70s who ended up being sampled by De La Soul, thereby giving salivating record collectors and sample hunters a second stab at hearing their terrific music.
Few could argue that Britain has produced a better soul artist than Dusty Springfield. No-one channelled the feeling of a song quite like her and that remarkable, unique voice of hers is one that’ll never be copied.
You may remember Estelle’s ‘American Boy’, which featured a Kanye West verse, but there’s more to her than that one big smash. That said, if you’re going to go global with a record, ‘American Boy’ isn’t a bad one at all.
The critics favourite, Laura Mvula has melted the hearts of everyone with her modern-take on soul. She’s a magnificent artist and, as good as her work is, you get the impression she’s not yet released her best.
London’s R&B champion, Angel, has all the ingredients to be a superstar, so fans of his are enjoying him up close and personal before he ends up vanishing behind the velvet curtain of the VIP section.
Courtney Bennett is one of the most promising singers in Britain right now. She’s put out loads of great songs and was spotted by Ryan Leslie to sing on his ‘Black Mozart’ LP. One of the future, for sure.
Swedish-born, but British raised, Fatima has been making some very interesting and original soul music (‘Circle’ is well worth a listen). Another one who, if we’re not careful, could be huge!
Lianne La Havas
The fabulous Lianne La Havas as dazzled everyone who has seen her live and on record, she’s no slouch either. Mixing jazz, soul and electronics, she’s so good that Prince went ’round her house for a cup of tea.
Another one of Britain’s blue-eyed soulies from the ’60s, Chris Farlowe’s voice is a force of nature. The thing that bellows out of that awkward frame of his provided Immediate Records with some of their best hits. You’ll know him from his famous version of ‘Handbags & Gladrags’.
Lynden David Hall
Britain’s answer to Neo Soul, LDH sadly passed away in 2006, but not before cutting some great records and an amusing appearance in ‘Love Actually’.
Honorary mentions to:
Katy B, Craig David, Alice Russell, Jay Sean, Taio Cruz, Brand New Heavies, Misha Paris, Rebecca Ferguson.