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Interview: YolanDa Brown is back

TALENTED: YolanDa Brown is touring the country following the release of ‘Love Politics War’ in June

YOLANDA BROWN is the definition of a Renaissance woman. The saxophonist, composer, one-time dancer and soon-to-be children’s book author is doing it all with poise and class.

“What I love about my career is that every day is different. I can get an amazing fulfillment from doing music education work or performing on stage with The Temptations,” she says.

“Every day surprises me.”

Brown was born and raised in Barking to Jamaican parents. Her family-orientated upbringing and diverse musical inspirations heavily shaped the instrumentalist’s love of music.

“I’m from a Jamaican household, so when I think of my youth, I think of good food, hearing lots of laughter and happiness around me,” she says.

“And I remember a great selection on the record player. My dad had the best collection of all genres, from reggae to folk, classical, jazz, Latin jazz and everything in between.

“It’s a place that would have been welcoming to everyone.”


STRONG START: YolanDa Brown with her 2009 MOBO Award

Brown's love of music flowed through to musical instruments as she played everything from the drum to the violin. However, the saxophone was the ultimate instrument that drew her in.

"I played a lot of instruments and people ask me, 'How do you pick one?'. I always say it's the one which resonates with you the most. I played the drums, violin and piano, and with those instruments, I felt like I had to be in a particular room or place, but I loved the saxophone instantly, because it just felt like my voice. I loved the tone of it, how warm and rich it is, how I used my breath to create it and that I could take it with me everywhere. The saxophone just felt like a natural extension of me."

While the saxophone resonated with Brown from an early age and saw her achieve phenomenal success – from performing for the Queen at Buckingham Palace to winning a MOBO Award in 2009 for Best Jazz Act – the talented artist is keen to reinvent the wheel with her genre of ‘posh reggae’, a sound of original compositions blending reggae, jazz and soul written and performed in her own style, which was prominently featured in her recently released sophomore album, Love Politics War.

“I’m inspired by lots of genres and I think it’s funny how the music industry wants artists to be playing a sound of music that they can put in a box,” Brown says.

WATCH A RECENT LIVE PERFORMANCE FROM YOLANDA BROWN, BELOW (credit: YouTube/yolandabrownmusic):

"Now I've gone on to create my own genre - 'posh reggae' - that people can put into a box of its own, but you can still hear those gospel, rock and classical influences. It has a bit of everything."

Love Politics War was released on June 17 this year and was heavily-inspired by the tumultuous times we're currently living in. Despite the doom and gloom, however, Brown put a meaningful twist on it all, shedding some positivity on her album despite the dark inspiration.

"I'm a very positive person, so whatever is happening in the world, I always feel like there’s a lesson to be learned,” says Brown.

“Also, during the production process of this album, I picked my genres first. So I knew with the reggae there were so many ways to interpret it – there’s that militant feel that comes with a message, and then you have the nice, laying-on-a-beach kind of reggae.

“So I kept it in a positive light, but was able to get some really gritty sounds, too.”

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She adds:

“Then, from a jazz perspective, I got some crunchy chords and they can be really descriptive and quite dark, actually. I liked that, because it’s almost a juxtaposition of having light and dark inside of music, and that for me was really fascinating.”

In support of the album, the Brit talent has embarked on a tour and will be performing across the UK this winter.

“I enjoy touring so much, and there’s a lot that people can expect from a YolanDa Brown show. My shows are always a journey and about dancing, singing and having a good time, based in jazz, reggae and soul.”

While music remains the number one love in her life, the MOBO award-winner is also branching out into other meaningful endeavours, including the YolanDa Brown Foundation and developing children’s books for 2018.

“I’m finishing my line of children’s books, which is coming out next year, so that’s something in the pipeline, and I’m looking forward to getting all the illustrations finalised and focusing on that,” she says.

“It’s really nice for me to share the experiences of touring through these books, and I think each book will emphasise the different personality traits that children should be aware of. The books will focus on confidence, trying new things, being open to different people – and there are lot of life lessons that can be learned and shared.”

YolanDa Brown’s new album, Love Politics War is out now and she is on tour until December.

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