Singer Laura Mvula speaks on diversity and growing up in ‘racist’ Birmingham
In infant school “Kids used to say: I won’t hold her hand, the brown might rub off”
“It’s like when black women come up to me and go, ‘Sister, your natural hair, man, I love that, it’s amazing’.
“And I’m like, ‘It’s just my natural hair — why is that revolutionary in 2016?’ There’s a huge alarm bell there. We have so far to go.”
Mvula was among many artists left devastated by the recent death of Prince, whom she met three years ago and became friends with.
“He was one of the biggest champions of my work,” she said. “He spent time putting my name out — I can’t tell you the amount of times I’d go places in the world and people would say, ‘I know your music because of Prince’.
Laura Mvula – London Live
“There was no one like him. And I just remember he smelt so divine, that’s the thing. Kind of like vanilla, kind of like heaven.
“We’re obsessed with what’s not real and so sometimes it’s easier for people to play up to things. He did not. And he was fearless.
“If you’re going to succeed in the truest sense of the word, and let your music have as far a reach as possible without diluting it, without compromising, you have to be fearless. And that’s hard as hell.”The singer was one of a lucky few invited to party with Prince after the 2014 Brit awards, when she was nominated but did not win.
She recalled: “He sat down and he just said, ‘How do you feel?’ And I was like, ‘You know what? I’m disappointed that I’m disappointed’.
“And he said, ‘I understand’. He laughed, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I made Prince laugh!’ And he talked with me for 40 minutes about how he’d tirelessly worked to create and own his music. He was the most relaxed, angelic presence.”
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