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Rub your ears: Fast-rising pop star came out of … top symphony orchestra

We hear that Laura Mvula – the singer-songwriter whose debut album, Sing to the Moon, is being tipped for the charts – has come up through the classical hothouse.


No sooner did we admire the quality of her debut track this morning than friends at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra popped up to tell us that Laura used to play in the first violin section of the CBSO Youth Orchestra and worked until last year as receptionist at the CBSO Centre. She played in The Firebird under Sakari Oramo and in the world premiere of Tansy Davies Streamlines. ‘She’s classically trained to the hilt, profoundly musical, and as modest and engaging as anyone could wish,’  says Birmingham classical music writer Richard Bratby.

Laura studied composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire and went on to marry a fellow-student, baritone Themba Mvula, who is playing Jesus on Good Friday in St Matthew Passion. Her younger brother and sister, James and Dionne, played with her as teenagers in a classical string trio. Her aunt, Carol Pemberton, runs an a capella group, Black Voices. Although Laura tells the local newspaper that her parents prefer jazz, it seems the new generation in the family set out to get steeped in classics. Laura has to be the next poster girl for music education (once the fuss dies down).

I love it when the two worlds of music kiss, rather than collide.

You can hear the new crop at CBSYO play Mahler 5 on Sunday with Andrew Litton. And here’s another Laura track, as bonus.

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  1. Very nice. Like a Vespertine-era Björk with soul accents.

  2. Timon Wapenaar says:

    Hmmm…. Smelling a Mzansi connection here: ladies of the Z.C.C. in the choir and a familiar countryside in the background.

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