Lianne La Havas

Biography

One night last October, Lianne La Havas' life changed on a dime. The 22-year-old London-born singer, songwriter, and guitarist had been asked to appear on the influential British music show Later. with Jools Holland (a rare invitation for an unknown artist), and she made sure to take advantage of her moment. Cutting a striking figure in a white pleated skirt and side-swept poof of hair, with a radiant smile spread across her face, La Havas performed "Age"-a playful tune about a dalliance with an older man-with effortless grace and charm. When the show aired, the reaction was instantaneous and unanimous: Lianne La Havas was on her way to becoming a star. "With her electric guitar strung high, and her beautiful, smoky, vibrato-rich croon of a voice enunciating every word, she seems to be confiding in you directly, with no filter in between-a strange (and rare) mix of fragility ... and impregnable, ensnaring confidence," raved the UK's Sunday Times about the performance.

"I just hoped to play well and not make any mistakes," La Havas says with characteristic modesty. "It actually felt like the first time I ever sang in front of an audience at school. I was terrified!" Her undetectable stage fright notwithstanding, the captivating performance spoke volumes about this young newcomer, who, at that point, had been signed to Warner Bros. Records and subsequently released two EP's in the U.K. (Lost & Found and Forget). She was also busy writing and recording songs for her full-length debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?

Following La Havas' performance on Later., her London club residency sold out in a few hours and she was tapped by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who had also appeared on the program that night, to open his band's North American tour in December 2011. She was nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2012-an annual poll of music critics and industry figures to find the most promising new musical talent (past winners include Adele and Jessie J).

Then Prince called and invited La Havas to visit him at his Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis, where the two spoke about music for hours and played guitar together. ("We were kind of jamming, and he fed me a line on the bass while he got on the drums," she recalls. "We were just having a fun evening.") Stevie Wonder turned up at her sold-out show at L.A.'s intimate Bootleg Theater (capacity: 450) and chatted with her for an hour afterward. "He was very complimentary about my songs and said it was like listening to India.Arie for the first time," she says.)

La Havas was recently hand-selected by the legendary Robert Plant to open for him and she is also set to open for her longtime hero Erykah Badu in London-a bill that she has described as a "dream show" for her, recently telling NYLON Magazine, "I'd love to support Erykah Badu, just so I could meet her."

What those musical legends have undoubtedly responded to is not only La Havas' obvious talent as a vocalist and songwriter, but also her warmth and ability to connect as a performer-qualities that extend to Is Your Love Big Enough?. Recorded in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the album was produced by fellow Brit Matt Hales (Aqualung), who also co-wrote several of the songs. "The first time I saw Matt, I felt like I knew him already," La Havas says. "He really helped nurture my strengths; I just trust him." She formed a songwriting partnership with Hales and followed him to Los Angeles, where, in 2010, she was offered a development deal with Warner Bros. Records, giving her the luxury of time to develop her lean, nimble approach to blending soul, jazz, and folk. Together La Havas and Hales conjured up the songs on Is Your Love Big Enough?-a stylistically diverse collection where rhythmically fueled songs like the handclap-filled title track and "Forget" (co-produced by Hales and TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek) co-exist comfortably alongside songs driven by delicate piano melodies or finger-picked acoustic guitar rhythms like on "Lost and Found," "Everything Everything," and "No Room for Doubt," a lullaby-esque duet with American alt-folk artist Willy Mason, who also co-wrote the song.

"I feel like we've made a very eclectic-sounding record," says La Havas. "I'm really pleased about that, because I love the idea of creating something you can't put into one box. My voice and guitar-playing tie all the songs together. I'm very influenced by jazz, as well as soul, blues, and folk music, because of the storytelling elements. I'm singing about my life and am drawn to writing about the complications of love and being in love, like on 'Age,' 'No Room for Doubt,' and 'Forget.' 'Is You Love Big Enough?' is more about the love I discovered for myself while spending time alone in a new setting. I was able to process my thoughts and find true happiness through music. It's also a little ode to my guitar, because when I found it, I had a sense of moving forward. That's why I thought the song's title, which Willy Mason actually came up with, would be the perfect album name, because it encompasses all of the songs. The album is like a map of the route I have taken through life and love over the past three years."

The daughter of a Greek father and a Jamaican mother, La Havas fell in love with music at a young age and cites her parents' tastes as a huge influence. Her dad, who played accordion, piano, and guitar, favored jazz artists like Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, while her mother loved female soul-R&B singers like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and Mary J. Blige. La Havas remembers wanting to sing herself at age seven after watching Lauryn Hill belt out a gospel tune in Sister Act 2. She wrote her first song at age 11 but didn't sing in public until joining the school choir at age 13. Having played piano for several years, La Havas started on guitar at 18 and credits the discovery for her growing confidence as a songwriter. "I never thought I'd be able to do music as a career though," she says. "I was convinced I wanted to be an art teacher." She enrolled in college to study art but dropped out to pursue a career in music after joining a circle of friends who wrote and recorded music while attending London's famed performing arts institution The BRIT School. One of those friends asked La Havas to accompany her at a gig and also introduced her to British singer Paloma Faith, with whom La Havas toured as a back-up singer. She also performed in bands, put her music up on MySpace, and found management, which led her to Hales and her future.

Now La Havas is ready to take center stage herself and win over American audiences with the August 7 U.S. release of Is Your Love Big Enough? by Nonesuch Records. "I hope people can find some sort of connection to the music or the lyrics," she says. "Maybe they have been through something similar and can relate to what I'm singing about. Hopefully I'll make some new fans and have more fun times ahead. America is a big country, but I'm ready for the challenge."

Official bio
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Tramlines

11th March 2014 -

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Tramlines is Sheffield's inner-city music festival which was set up in 2009 with the first year attracting 35,000 people. The festival has gone from strength to strength with 2010's event doubling that figure; unsurprising, given...

Stars Back Campaign To Save London Music Venue

3rd March 2014 -

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Music stars including Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson, singer Lianne La Havas, and rapper Plan B have backed a campaign to save a historic London gig venue from closure.The George Tavern in Stepney, east London...

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26th February 2014 -

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What could be better than countryside, amazing bands and incredible food all in one weekend? The Big Feastival, co-hosted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, offers just that with a hard-to-beat line-up of well-respected chefs and...

Lianne La Havas Kicks Off Prince Marathon With Special Performance

17th February 2014 -

 News

Singer Lianne La Havas had a very special accompanist as she took the stage at Sunday night's (16Feb14) Prince gig in London - the pop superstar played piano as she sang her tune Lost &...

Festival Number 6

12th February 2014 -

 Festival

Festival No 6 takes place in the picturesque Welsh village of Portmeirion and holds various forms of entertainment across their unforgettable, stand-out venues. With a vast range of acts blasting out their music from the...

Lianne La Havas: Prince playing at my house 'like a storm'

6th February 2014 -

 News

Lianne La Havas claims it was ''like a storm had hit'' when Prince played an impromptu gig at her house on Tuesday (04.02.14).The 24-year-old star saw her east London home turned into a concert venue...

Prince Kicks Off UK Tour With Secret Gig And Unusual Press Conference [Video]

5th February 2014 -

 News

Prince has officially announced his band's presence in the UK with a press conference and live performance held in the home of British soul singer Lianne La Havas, followed by a surprise gig at Camden's...

Prince's band tease debut album

29th January 2014 -

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Prince's all-girl band have teased their debut album ahead of his London shows. The 'When Doves Cry' singer has been touring with 3RDEYEGIRL in North America who are due to release their record 'PLECTRUMELECTRUM' this...

Prince to perform in singer's humble home

24th January 2014 -

 News

Lianne La Havas can't wait for Prince to play a gig in her ''humble home''. The legendary singer has announced he will kick off his 'Hit and Run' tour in London by hosting a press...

Manic Street Preachers close Festival No.6

16th September 2013 -

 News

Manic Street Preachers closed Festival No.6 last night (15.09.13).The 'Show Me the Wonder' group gave a preview of tracks from their new album 'Rewind the Film' - released today (16.09.13) as they headlined the event...

Festival No. 6 Announces Volvo Partnership And Beach Activities

5th September 2013 -

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Volvo Car UK announces a new partnership with Festival No 6, held between the 13th and the 15th September 2013. In addition to an exciting line-up of bands and artists such as The Manic Street...

David Cameron Gives Romantic Mixtape To G8 Leaders, Who's On It?

31st July 2013 -

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Prime Minister David Cameron has promoted young British musicians by giving all the G8 leaders a 10-track USB stick containing songs from Alt-J, Conor Maynard, Laura Mvula and Gabrielle Aplin with a very prominent theme...

Lianne La Havas splurges on vintage clothes

24th July 2013 -

 News

Lianne La Havas spent her first paycheck on vintage clothes.The 23-year-old singer - who shot to fame with the help of her close pal Paloma Faith - admits her first big cash reward from her...

Alex James gets festival tips from Glastonbury's Michael Eavis

28th June 2013 -

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Alex James has ''sympathy'' for Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis for the massive job he takes on every year.The Blur bassist has the utmost respect for Michael, 77, for what he achieves with his renowned music...

Osheaga Festival

24th June 2013 -

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Inaugurated in 2006, OSHEAGA Music and Arts Festival stands as the largest festival of its kind in Canada. An exciting party dedicated to showcasing music and visual arts, OSHEAGA offers a world-class European-style event across...

Lovebox 19th - 21st July 2013 Wraps Up The Weekend With Its Most Vibrant Sunday Yet

12th June 2013 -

 Press

Lovebox 2013 is already shaping up to be the most diverse edition of the festival yet, bringing together an exciting range of talent ranging from the biggest acts around right now (Plan B, Azealia Banks,...

Lianne La Havas left suicidal by breakup

29th May 2013 -

 News

Lianne La Havas felt suicidal when she broke up with her boyfriend.The 23-year-old singer has spoken about the devastating break-up which inspired her track 'Lost and Found.'She told The Observer newspaper: ''I'd never experienced it...

The Selecter Announced To Headline Sunday 21st July At Tramlines 2013

21st May 2013 -

 Press

Tramlines, Sheffield's inner city music festival, has today announced its Sunday Main Stage Headliner for the festival, as well whole host of other acts being added to the bill. The UK's biggest inner city festival,...

Lianne La Havas To Play Exclusive Gig At Liverpool Skatepark Thursday 30 May 2013

17th May 2013 -

 Press

Nokia and La Blogotheque are proud to announce that soul songstress Lianne La Havas will headline the third leg of the Lumia Live Sessions. The Mercury Award nominated star will perform to an intimate crowd...

Camping Confirmed For First Time At Live From Jodrell Bank 2013

17th May 2013 -

 Press

The multi award winning Live From Jodrell Bank series is delighted to announce that camping facilities will be available for the very first time to satisfy demand from music and science lovers to stay in...

Festival No.6 Announces Neon Neon, Lianne La Havas Plus Many More..

24th April 2013 -

 Press

The award-winning Festival No. 6 has announced Chic ft. Nile Rodgers and a second raft of stellar line-up additions, ahead of revealing their final announcements in May. Festival No.6 is a pioneering festival concept bringing...

Lianne La Havas - Debut Album 'Is Your Love Big Enough?' Shortlised For The Ivor Novello Award 'Best Album'

18th April 2013 -

 Press

Last year 'Is Your Love Big Enough?', the debut album by Lianne La Havas reached number 4 in the UK album charts, was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and awarded iTunes 'Album of the...

Will Alt J Add An Ivor Novello Award To Their Mercury Gong?

17th April 2013 -

 News

Mercury Music Prize winners Alt-J could well be adding an Ivor Novello award to their collection of gongs, NME announced today (April 17, 2013). The band have been nominated in the Best Contemporary Song category...

Lianne La Havas Wants To Give Rising Aussie Singer Big Boost

14th April 2013 -

 News

British soul star Lianne La Havas is keen to shine a light on the talents of rising Australian singer Matt Corby by teaming up with him in the studio.The Mercury Prize nominee recently met Corby,...

Lianne La Havas Keen To Open Own Restaurant

11th April 2013 -

 News

Critically-acclaimed soul star Lianne La Havas dreams of opening her own restaurant in her native London.The Mercury Prize nominee enjoys serving up tasty treats incorporating the food of her childhood growing up with a Greek...

Lianne La Havas Exercises With Bandmates On Tour

10th April 2013 -

 News

British soul singer Lianne La Havas is keeping fit on tour by joining her band members as they follow an intense daily workout regime.The Lost & Found star adopted a more healthy lifestyle after excessive...

Lianne La Havas Keen To Hit The Studio With Prince

8th April 2013 -

 News

Soul star Lianne La Havas is eyeing a collaboration with Prince after striking up a close friendship with the music icon.The British singer's talents caught the attention of the Purple Rain hitmaker last year (12)...

V Festival 2013 Beyonce And Kings Of Leon Confirmed As Headliners, Many More Acts Announced

26th February 2013 -

 Press

V Festival 2013, sponsored by Virgin Media, is once again leading the way with an impeccable and eclectic line up of acts. Brace yourselves for the high priestess of pop, Beyonce, who will be...

Pinkpop 2013 Announce Headliners, The Killers, Kings Of Leon And Green Day

21st February 2013 -

 Press

After GREEN DAY, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THE SCRIPT, BEN HOWARD, KENSINGTON, TRIGGERFINGER and PASSENGER, Pinkpop is able to announce 24 new acts to the programme today, including THE VACCINES, ALT-J, C2C, DIE ANTWOORD,...

Lianna La Havas wants Damon Albarn collaboration

14th February 2013 -

 News

Lianne La Havas wants to work with Damon Albarn on her next album.The 'Lost & Found' songstress is hoping to collaborate with the Blur and Gorlliaz musician on her next record after being awestruck by...

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