The MOBO nominee has been considered one of the brightest new stars in the UK since the innocent days of her first albums ‘Seventeen’ and ‘Out Of My Hands’. The past few years have brought a great sense of maturity and growth for the 24 year old artist, a young Soul Siren that embodies the ‘It’ factor that every artist wished they possessed. She’s got the chops, she’s got the looks and she’s certainly delivered again with her new material for 2012. The beautiful, uptempo single ’Butterflies’ is the first of Keisha’s new tracks. Written by Steve Cornish & Brandon White (JLS) with production coming from the UK’s Digital Dog, this is an outright anthem with a strong inspirational message. “I immediately connected with the ‘Butterflies’ song first of all because it’s timeless. Lyrically there’s an element of realness to it and that’s important to me as an artist because I want to convey the truth and reality of what goes on in relationships and everyday life. I also love the production of it as it feels so current. An uptempo dance record is something I’ve always wanted to do so, I’m excited”! ‘Butterflies’ was remixed to dance-floor perfection by the cream of UK production talent: Full Intention, Digital Dog and Matt Jam Lamont.
At the tender age of 14, Keisha was invited to perform for Warner Bros music executives. She sang a cappella to Aretha Franklin’s ‘If You Should Lose A Good Thing’ and they were so impressed that they immediately signed her. This became the first song she performed for a live audience. Aged 17, Keisha released her debut album ‘Seventeen’ which spawned the hit singles ‘Watcha Gonna Do’, ‘Don’t Care Who Knows’ featuring US Rapper Cassidy and ‘Don’t Fool A Woman in Love’. She also sang the theme song for BBC’s Tracey Beaker television series which became the B-side to her debut single. Her sophomore set ‘Out Of My Hands’ soon followed and included the mega hits ‘The Weakness In Me’ (influenced by her friend Alicia Keys); ‘Don’t Mistake Me’ (featured on the US show ‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and ‘I Choose Life’ (a version of Celine Dion’s ‘Ain’t Gonna Look The Other Way’). This album was certified gold! On the back of her success, Keisha was nominated for the MOBO ‘Best UK Female’ Award and performed at the Ceremony with Soul legend Sam Moore. No stranger to the stage, Keisha has toured extensively throughout Europe, the United States and Africa, playing shows alongside Black Eyed Peas, Angie Stone, Beverley Knight, Mis-Teeq, Lemar and Craig David.
Keisha has collaborated with producers such as Scott Storch, Keith Harris (Black Eyed Peas), Ron ‘NEFF-U’, Phantom Boyz and Robin Miller. With ‘Butterflies’, she is a woman with a new sense of direction, now having creative control over her career. “As well as being a dance record, ‘Butterflies’ has encouraged me to push the boundaries, in terms of my music and image. In many respects, I feel like a new Keisha White. The old Keisha is still there but, the new Keisha has gained a lot of experience from the highs and lows of being in the industry. Now I’m ready to do ‘me’ and be the true artist I want to be”! The ‘now’ Keisha wields a broad appeal across her fan base. Through determination and dedication, she just keeps getting better! During live performances she’s on fire, captivating her audience and leaving them in awe of her enchanting vocals. Gracefulness alone sets her far apart from the pack as her inner soul prominently shines through her songs and always leaves you wanting more. There’s something about Ms White’s raw talent that just cannot be tamed and this is evident in the new range of her music.
‘Butterflies’ is available now on all platforms with the new album coming in December 2014 on GC Recordings.
Vintage Reggae With A Modern Day Twist
Colin Burns was born and raised in Hackney, London. This is not the first area one thinks of when seeking out the capital’s musical talent and yet, throughout his youth, Colin was surrounded by and immersed in music. In fact, he grew up in a household with three siblings (eldest Norman) who were musically inclined. His brother, Freddie Clark had a couple of tunes, ‘Are We Gonna Break It Up’ and ‘Never Gonna Change My Mind’ all up in the Reggae charts. In the ‘80s, his younger brother, Anthony (Little Clarkie) also dented the charts. So you’d think with that sort of background, it would be inevitable where a music-loving, talented youngster was headed, particularly one with a good singing voice. But, much as he loved music, Colin was not sure he wanted to make it his career so he got himself a 9-5 job. Slowly though, he was drawn into it.
“Music was always there. My brothers always bought all the up-to-date music and played in their cars. As a youth, I went to a Pentecostal Church with my parents and sang in the Choir but I didn’t like the style of that particular Choir. I loved to sing but was never taught how to sing, I just eventually developed my own style. We all get our musical education in different ways. The first time I really listened to Dennis Brown was whilst waiting for my brother in his car for ages. I was greatly influenced by the vocal styles of Dennis, Jacob Miller, Johnny Clarke and Freddie McGregor”.
Like many youngsters who shared a love for music, Colin and some friends decided to form a band called ‘Black Ice’. And, although he knew that he had a good singing voice, Colin started out as the keyboard player because of his love for musicianship. However, it wasn’t long before he was interjecting to show the singers in the group how to do justice to songs. When he stepped up to the Mic on one occasion, it suddenly hit everyone present that they had found their front-man. Everyone, that is apart from the newly nominated lead singer. After some gentle persuasion, Colin stepped up to the challenge. This then gave our man the impetus to show the rest of the world what he knew deep down inside - that he was born to sing! Unfortunately, the band broke up after two years without releasing any recordings but, most of the members still kept in touch.
By this time, Colin had already started taking the tentative steps to composing his own melodies and writing his own lyrics. So when one of his former band mates told him that he’d bought some computerised musical equipment (drum machine, four-track cassette mixer, DX100 keyboard), he knew he was ready and that he had everything he needed to take things to the next stage. This led to the recording of his first tune ‘Don’t You Know’ which, he released commercially with the help of his brother who also had his own recording studio. The tune created quite a buzz and got some serious rinsing on community radio stations. The tune and the fact that he did a series of jingles for the DJs led to contacts with other artists and provided the opportunity to perform in clubs across the country.
A second self-composed tune ‘Magic’ became something of a ‘ladies’ favourite’ at parties and in the clubs. And, although other tunes were released, they failed to dent the charts and Colin began to feel that he might have been right not to try and make music a career. There was still the occasional performance for friends and family at weddings and other social events. Deep down, Colin knew music really was his first love but, he also knew he had never given it the full-time attention needed for a successful career. Albeit, his performance at a wedding so impressed one of the guests that he suggested Colin come to his studio to do an album. After some initial misgivings, he gave into the musical side, eventually leading to the release of one of his own compositions ‘Latest Craze’, coupled with a remix of his earlier tune ‘Magic’. He completed an album towards the end of 1996 but, it was never released. In spite of this, recording the album was not a wasted experience as it led to his meeting with many other artists including the late Junior Delgado, Keith Drummond, Roger Robin and Johnny Osbourne.
A versatile Colin gave Reggae music a break to make a Garage tune, ‘Got To Know You Better’ but, feeling that not everyone had his best interests at heart, he promptly retired from the music biz. He later rekindled a musical friendship with RS Digital who he had previously met whilst doing a PA. At the earlier meeting, Digital had suggested they work together but, nothing came of it. However, Digital was responsible for introducing Colin to Spice Isle Records which, led to the release of the album ‘Rain Or Sunshine’, the latest and most accomplished work thus far. It has been a long journey but I’m sure you’ll agree on hearing his music that this man is here to stay!
“When listening to a piece of music that I’m gonna write lyrics to, I’d listen repeatedly about 20-30 times so that it’s constantly running around in my head before I decide what to write. I’d sing a melody and then try to find the words to suit that melody. So eventually, the whole composition of the song comes together”.
Audrey was born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents who settled in England during the late ‘50s. As a youngster, she began singing in Church, joined the Choir aged 12 and was a member of her School’s Choir. Her main inspiration came from her mother who always sang along to Country & Western, Reggae and Gospel records back then. One of her favourite artists was Millie Small (My Boy Lollipop) but, she was also inspired by Doris Day (she loved musicals), Three Degrees, The Supremes and later Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Gladys Knight.
At college, Audrey became friends with Janette who introduced her to Noel Salmon (aka Fish) who played keyboards in a Band she was singing with at the time. After a few rehearsals, Noel asked if they would sing some of his songs. They began to rehearse with Noel and later formed the group, The Sadonians. Another girl was needed so when Veronica was introduced to them, they became a Trio and began recording in 1977 at Gooseberry Studios for the Neville King label. Their first Single was titled ‘The Day Will Come’ and it reached number 4 in the Black Echoes (newspaper) music charts. Their next recording was with producer, John Rubie of Freedom Sound Records with whom they delivered ‘Goodbye My Love’ and ‘Disappointments’.
‘Goodbye My Love’ is the group’s biggest hit to date. However, they separated as things were not working out with the producer and Audrey continued to sing as a Solo artist. In 1985, she joined ‘The Peoples Choir’ lead by Joe Benjamin, toured London and recorded the album ‘Who Wants To Live In Britain’ with them but left after a year. She then hooked up with Noel again, formed a Duo and toured the music circuit around the UK. In the early ‘90s, she met another producer, Jah Larry of Clarendon Sounds and recorded the album, ‘Step By Step’, released in 1994 for Prestige Records. “Songs were released as Singles and played on Jamaica’s Irie FM radio station. I got the chance to work with The Heptones who provided backing vocals on my album and also worked with the Crucial Vibes band”, she recalls.
In 1998, Audrey worked on the Windrush Showcase in London with the likes of (the late) Louisa Marks, Jean Binta Breeze, Felicity Ethnic, Eddie Nestor & Robbie Gee. She has since continued to tour the UK with various artists including The Mighty Diamonds, Joy Mack, Paulette Tajah, Kofi, Michael Gordon, Black Slate, Kwest, Carroll Thompson, Dub Poet Mutabaruka, amongst others.
KELE LE ROC
Kelly Biggs aka Kele Le Roc was born in Hackney, East London. Her mother designed clothes whilst her father was a dancer and model. It was obvious from an early age that Kele had a penchant for all things musical. “My earliest memory was when I was about 5; I watched a musical of the Nicholas Brothers Tap Dancing on the telly and I tried to copy them. From that day my mother decided to send me to dance school. I loved dancing and had dreams of one day performing in the West End and on Broadway. Singing obviously went hand in hand with this but, at the age of 12, I suffered a bad knee injury and it propelled me into focusing on my singing”. The first song Kele recorded was a cover of Rose Royce’s ‘It’s Over’, although it wasn’t long before she wrote and recorded her own material. She found a musical home with production team ‘Best Kept Secret’ who understood her musically and knew where she wanted to go with her sound. This was where she got the moniker ‘Le Roc’.
“My engineer Digital named me Le Roc. It was kinda after the Prince song ‘Rock Hard In A Funky Place’, whenever I sang he’d say ‘you rock hard’.... so when the time came for a stage name Le Roc seemed quite apt. There was no Mr Biggs or Biggie Smalls yet so Kelly Biggs just didn’t sound right at the time”. The sound they created together led to the underground hit ‘Let Me Know’ and got the attention of major labels. At the time, 16-year-old Kele was on tour supporting US artists like Total, Horace Brown and Mona Lisa whilst studying Performing Arts at College. First Ave and Sony Records in Chicago were the main contenders. Sony Records in London had referred her as they felt her American sound and look would be more suited to that market. Kele didn’t go to Chicago but pressed on with her career with First Ave whom she signed to in 1996 and licensed to Polydor Records in 1997. She recorded her debut album ‘Everybody’s Somebody’ working with the likes of Rhett Lawrence and Harvey Mason Jr. Coolio and the late, great Roger Troutman also featured on this set. In 1999, Kele landed two top ten singles and the accolades rolled in including two MOBOs for Best Single (My Love) and Best Newcomer.
“London is very contrived especially for Black music. If they can’t put you in a box and tick it, they don’t know what to do with you. I wanted to make American sounding R&B but I’m also a big Prince fan and love his uniqueness so my style is a little eccentric. First Ave didn’t get me but wouldn’t let me leave as they knew I was a star and so basically just left me on a shelf”. However, Kele explored other music genres and found solace working with other talented artists such as Courtney Pine, Omar, Estelle, Lemar, Shola Ama, Asher D, Don-E, ShyFX, Roni Size, Damage and in 2001, released the global smash ‘Romeo’ with Basement Jaxx. “It’s ridiculous but, a few people were up in arms about me singing different genres! As far as I’m concerned, God gave me a voice to sing, he didn’t give me limitations. I’m a Soul singer, I love all types of music so, I sing from my soul. Ironically enough, the Garage remix of ‘My Love’ is my biggest hit to date and is still regularly requested. I always joke that the song pays my bills”!
When Kele finally negotiated herself out of her deal in 2002, she had the challenging task of doing her own A&R. She decided to add a few more strings to her bow and branched out into presenting and acting. Her skilful dance moves had a cult following on the Channel 4 show ‘Bustamove’ and she also starred in MTV’s ‘Dubplate Drama’ and in indie films like ‘Rewind’. She was a residential Showbiz Presenter on INC TV and ‘lived’ her original dream of starring in Musicals when she toured the world as a principal in the Spirit produced ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You: The Life of Ray Charles’. She ran and designed her own female club wear clothing line ‘Funkin Bytch’ and jewellery line ‘KLR Bling’! These were all natural progressions for Ms Le Roc.
In May 2008, Kele was selected amongst eight other musically talented young individuals to go to Mali, West Africa to work on the music project ‘Routes To Roots’. The project was a unique platform to connect artists from England and Africa to create an album, educational book for schools and a documentary series, later screened on MTV. Such experiences allowed Kele to grow in many ways. She was once told ‘you don’t have to live the lesson to learn it’ and whilst she appreciates that, she wouldn’t change a thing in her life, good or bad as it has taken her to where she is right now, a place where she is extremely happy. “I am so blessed, it took a while but, I’m happy with the people I’m creating my music with. I love my family especially my mum who is my hero. I have wonderful friends and fans who are eagerly anticipating my new album penned by Le Roc Music. Although my first album did well, I never felt like it was a true interpretation of the real me as I wasn’t allowed to be the real me. This time around, it’s all about keeping it real and is genuinely from my heart”.
The UK’s Multi-Skilled Artisan
Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Babyface, Soul II Soul and Bob Marley are among the varied influences of British born Wayne Stephen Marshall and as such, his music reflects his eclectic tastes which straddle R&B, Hip-hop, Jazz and Reggae. Wayne checked in on the UK’s music scene in 1995 with his debut album ‘90 Degrees & Rising’ which remained #1 in the Music Charts for a total of 11 weeks. The massive single ‘G Spot’ took the UK’s Soul scene by storm – it dented the national charts, blew away the Street Charts and swiftly became a ‘ladies’ anthem’.
Following the success of his first album, he wasted no time in releasing his sophomore set ‘Censored’ later that year and by popular demand, the name Wayne Marshall become a household one. Again, the dimes kept him atop the Street Charts and he also garnered another top 40 national UK chart hit for the track ‘Spirit’ with ‘Slow Grind’ mastering the underground scene. The duet with Pauline Henry titled ‘Never Knew Love Like This’ also landed Wayne a place in the national charts and he could do no wrong on the dance-floors. His popularity offered up unique opportunities to headline on concerts with the likes of international acts R Kelly, Jodeci and The Jones Girls.
At the end of 1995, Wayne became the first British R&B artist to be honoured with four Black Music Awards for Best Album, Best Male Artist, Best Single and Best Newcomer. In the media, he appeared on the covers of newspapers such as The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Caribbean Times and The Voice, a novelty for UK R&B acts in those days. He went on to work with producers such as Handel Tucker and co-wrote the massive General Levy single ‘Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya’. His multi-talents later led him to write, produce and record his own material. Hence Wayne spent the last few years recording, mixing and mastering his current album ‘Riddim, Soul & Blues’ which, so far, he has performed to audiences in Jamaica, Bulgaria and the UK. His love for music has enabled him to fulfil his dreams and he has set up his own record label, ‘Yardblues’ so that he may continue to inspire, entertain and educate others in the musical art-form.
The sassy singer/songwriter has been singing since she can remember and grew up around various types of music and culture. Although based in North West London, her vocal prowess and style easily matches her American contemporaries. Her father was a DJ so it was only a matter of time before Miss LaTaille expressed herself through music. And, after realising that making music was her passion, she began to showcase her talent in various venues across London, playing at numerous gigs and making sure that her name and music were being heard by as many people as possible. Her formal singing career started when she was invited to tour with Holland’s songstress Tasha’s World, as a backing vocalist, during her European tour. Being noted for her unique style and impeccable tone, Ann-Marie was then invited to sing with international recording artists such as Omar, Marsha Ambrosius (of Floetry fame) and Soul II Soul’s Caron Wheeler to enthusiastic audiences around the Capitol. On stage, Miss LaTaille’s talent and personality provides a flawless and unique blend of singing, rapping, poetry and comedy which is aptly complimented by her live band to the delight and enjoyment of her adoring fans. The echoes of her smooth sultry voice can often be heard at iconic venues such as Jazz Cafe, Ronnie Scotts, Cargo and The 02 Arena where she has had the pleasure of performing.
Fans can also catch Ann-Marie LaTaille at the G MaG Shakedown events.
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