Laura Mvula: A Soulful Voice That Once Answered Phones | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Laura Mvula: A Soulful Voice That Once Answered Phones

Play associated audio

Less than two years ago, Laura Mvula was a receptionist honing her phone-answering skills at a music organization in Birmingham, England. Now, she's got a record deal and critical acclaim, and she's touring the U.S. with her debut album, Sing To The Moon.

She even stopped at NPR last week to record a Tiny Desk Concert.

After the show, Mvula spoke with Rachel Martin, host of Weekend Edition Sunday, about how much of a whirlwind the last couple of years have been and how she approaches her music and audience.


Interview Highlights

On her musical family:

"We were the kind of household where you couldn't have TV in your room. So, when my dad said I could have his keyboard in my bedroom, that was like, 'Whoa, this is another level.' I remember, that was the first time I wrote something and I got his ghetto blaster and I recorded it on tape. I rushed down ... and he played it in the car. I remember my [brothers] laughing, but my dad really loved it, and I think that gave me confidence."

On her favorite instrument to play:

"Well, I am by no means a pianist, I think that's safe to say, but the piano, for me ... it gave me what I needed, and gives me what I need, to write a song. I think playing or improvising on the piano is where I feel most liberated and sort of less conscious of all of my insecurities or inadequacies."

On her voice:

"When I used to think about singing, I used to think that if people sung well, [there] was a very sort of basic criteria [and] vocal gymnastic. How much power does the voice have? So I struggled a lot. If anybody asked me to sing anything, I was happy to sing in a group, but please don't ask me to sing solo. I think when I started writing songs, my voice just became another tool. It wasn't something that I was going to try desperately to try and woo a listener [with]. As long as I'm using my voice in a way that helps people understand what I'm trying to say, then I feel like I'm doing all right."

On the intimacy of doing a Tiny Desk Concert:

"I don't think I always look in people's faces. I think, especially when I'm doing my more intimate songs, that are more personal, I always think it's a bit accusing if I stare in someone's face when I'm singing quite a personal lyric. I kind of like people to feel that they have their own private space and not have me invade it with my eyes."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 17

Art is what you make of it. You can chew, crunch and dance at a bacon-inspired festival or see how a local artist transformed old objects into responsive sculptures.

NPR

Mistura Food Fest Gives Peruvian Cuisine A Chance To Shine

Every September, top chefs from around the world gather to celebrate the diversity of Peruvian cuisine. But not everyone is convinced the food boom is the answer to the country's historic challenges.
NPR

House Poised To Vote On Arming, Training Syrian Rebels

The expected vote on whether to authorize the Obama administration's plan to arm and train moderate fighters comes as the president meets with military officials at U.S. Central Command.
NPR

When The Power's Out, Solar Panels May Not Keep The Lights On

With the price of solar panels falling, more municipalities and homeowners are installing them. But having solar panels doesn't mean you won't lose power in a blackout — at least not yet.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.