In the Spotlight:
In addition to other monthly features; I am keen to put an artist into the forefront – someone doing great work and making waves in the world of music. In the second edition; I focus on the sensational musician Lánre. Not only is she one of the most positive and uplifting humans in music – she produces music that seeps into the soul and transforms the senses. Surely one of the most promising musicians working in the U.K.
WHO IS SHE?
“I was born in Stoke-On-Trent England many years ago to an amazing mum and an adorable dad. Some people say they can trace their earliest memory to way back in their mama’s womb but mine was on my first birthday trying to blow out the candle on my cake, strapped in a walker!
Yeah, I did not walk unaided until after my first birthday, I figured I would be walking all my life anyway, why the rush. (LOL!)
My parents thought it was a good idea to learn about my heritage and to grow up knowing the rest of my extended family, so at age four I traveled to Nigeria with my parents where I spent the next twenty years studying, learning and living.
My first public performance was at the age of eight when I got picked to lead the song ‘Don’t do that to the poor pussy cat’ at the local radio station. My teacher chose me to lead because according to her, I sang like an Angel. Awwwwwwwwwwww!
Growing up in Nigeria meant music was a hobby and passing my Maths, English and Sciences with flying colours became high on my priority list. I picked up my love for writing and music again in year 2002 when I joined the award winning UK collective GK REAL and that musical journey took me around the world singing and performing with amazing singers, writers and producers.
Discovering the guitar and freedom to express my thoughts is why you’re here reading my story which is to be continued…
So who am I….?
I am a writer
I am a singer
I am a wife
I am a sister
I am a daughter
I am a friend
I am African
I am British
I love God
I love reading
I can play a few chords on the guitar
I tend to go into my own shell even in the midst of a crowd
I have loads of stories locked up in my head
I am on a journey of discovery and I am excited!!”
WHY GET EXCITED?
There are few artists that genuinely try and reach out to people and make the world better. Music can be defined by a certain insularity: artists playing music and keeping hidden; not using their platform to make the world better and spread their voice. That is not the case with London-based Lánre. Following the release of her acclaimed E.P. Home; she unveiled the four-song collection, Human. It is as raw, investigative and searching as you’d imagine. The songs capture Lánre’s art and back-story; the music is uplifting and constantly compelling. In a city (London) where there are a fair few promising solo artists: None have the same appeal, allure and captivating soul as Lánre. She has toured Canada, France, and N.Y.C.; traveled to Sweden and brought her Yoruba heritage and blend of folk and soul to the Royal Albert Hall and Bath Music Festival – in addition to Edinburgh Fringe and Greenbelt Festival.
Lánre curates a monthly residence at Omnibus in Clapham Common and is one of those live performers that can silence audiences with her magnetic presence and stunning voice. The music taps into deep emotions and, whilst having a personal bent and introspective nature at times, turns its warmth and heart to the audience – someone who wants to connect with everybody she plays to. The songs – as evident throughout Human – are not bespoke and reserved to Lánre alone. They have a universal sound and capable of making their way onto the playlists of the nation’s most influential radio stations. The multi-discipline approach to music – tying in messages of humanity and socio-political themes – separates her aside from the mass of musicians content to just play a few songs and leave it at that.
“Headlining we had the beguiling Nigerian songstress Lánre, who held the auditorium in the palm of her hands. Armed only with her personality, her smile and an acoustic guitar, she took us on a journey back to her homeland (via Stoke-on-Trent) painting many vistas and drawing on many emotions with bright African colours – absolutely spellbinding” – John Drummond – Brewery Blues
“Relish in her soft yet soulful vocals…” – MTV UK
“This utterly soothing new single is well worth a listen.” – MOBO Awards
“I’m on my own again
My shoes are worn, my heart is torn
Wandering down this lonely road
I got nowhere to go
Love has given up on me a very long time ago
Will I ever find the peace for my restless soul”.
Human is still gathering affection and attention from fans and critics, but naturally, Lánre will be looking to the future and more music. What form a new release takes (whether an E.P. or album) it is sure to follow on from Human’s themes and sounds – the next stage in her career; more stories of love, life and human nature. 2016 is cooling off and Lánre’s warm and nurturing blends are always going to be in demand. It is worth keeping your ears and eyes peeled to Lánre’s social media pages and checking for updates. In addition to a string of gigs: Lánre will be putting material together and setting her sights on new audiences, venues and lands.
The media is turning its attentions to Lánre and beginning to discover what a talent she is. In a recent interview – following the release of Human – she explained her processes and how the creative procedure comes together:
“Talking to Lánre, she appears to be a pragmatist as evidenced by the reason to release a second EP rather than a full album; she was collaborating for the first time with new musicians and folk instruments and wasn’t sure if the results would warrant committing to a full album. Furthermore, when writing songs that will be played live, she doesn’t always have the luxury of a band around her so the songs need to work as solos as well as with a band. She also admits to being a bit of a “control freak” (her words) as she self produces all her music which she also writes. Asked if self producing is a conscious choice, Lánre says that “in time, I don’t know what will happen but now it’s working for me…I understand what my sound is and it’s a better fit at the moment. I’ve had meetings with record labels but the control freak in me doesn’t think it will work”. All this was said with much laughter and more than a bit tongue in cheek I suspect.
As always when I interview songwriters, I’m interested to know about that process – what comes first, how do the ideas come? For Lánre, who has always sung, rather than played instruments, the lyrics and the sound of the vocals come first, followed by guitar chords and the melody before being shared with the musicians she is collaborates with. Describing this process, Lánre again mentions her tendency towards control, “I never played an instrument so I always had to rely on other people for that which brought out more of the control freak”.
Although Lánre acknowledges this posed something of a dilemma in her songwriting, she says that it took the sudden death of her father to push her to learn to play her guitar. Her father was a musical person in that he listened to music a lot but never played an instrument and that pushed her to “go out and do what I want. Go for it, never waste time”. This pivotal moment in her life also prompted the decision to leave the safety and security of the six piece voice collective, GK Real and turn solo, again “doing what I wanted to do” although she admits it has been hard, “when you’re working with a band you have that support system but you have to do everything yourself when you go solo”.
If you have not discovered Lánre make sure you investigate her wonderful work so far – immerse yourself in its beauty, grace and uplifting power. As we transfer into 2017, Lánre is going to be busy and assessing her next move. Whatever she decides to do it going to be something rather special.