When I first heard Laura Mvula’s “She” on the radio I was struck by her originality. Then I heard “I Can’t Live With the World”, another cut that sounded (wonderfully) like one of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s inspired arrangements. No, it was Laura’s. She did all the arrangements on the debut album.

I immediately thought that with a surname like Mvula that she was South African, but it turns out that’s her married name; she is married to singer Themba Mvula. And yes, she is a schooled musician with a degree in composition from Birmingham Conservatory. She is also a choral director (I was thinking of Eric Whitacre when I first heard “She”. He’s living in England now). You can hear that training in her arrangements. My favorite two songs on the new album are “She” and “I Can’t Live with the World”. “She” concerns a child moving from a rougher part of town, a concrete jungle, into a nicer part of the city with beautiful gardens and surrounded by nature.

In this Brit Music Awards performance she reminds me of another powerful woman: Nina Simone, who was also classically trained. Both have the sort of stunning originality that is becoming more and more rare these days.

Laura’s debut album Sing to the Moon will be released digitally on April 16th. The album will be released on May 14th.

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