Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1089

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Feature

Laura White: Back by popular demand

Laura White @bluesand soul.com
Laura White @bluesand soul.com Laura White @bluesand soul.com Laura White @bluesand soul.com Laura White @bluesand soul.com

Having first come to national notoriety as the singer most controversially expelled from the final 12 contestants of 2008âs âX Factorâ, 22-year-old Laura White now comes correct with the irrepressibly melodic, feisty pop/R&B of her sassy UK Top 40 debut single âYou Should Have Knownâ.

Indeed, with her shock premature exit from said talent show having last year sparked both a debate in The Houses Of Parliament plus a petition signed by 100,000 people, Bolton lass Lauraâs aforementioned debut single prestigiously boasts input from world-class producer Ian Green - the man behind Madonnaâs recent global smash âCelebrationâ - plus Ivor Novello-winning songwriter Michelle Escoffrey, whose previous credits include George Michael and Stevie Wonder!

âYeah, I first hooked up with them both when I came off the âX Factorâ tour last Marchâ, begins an instantly-chatty Laura in lilting Lancashire tones: âYou know, that was when I actually started to search for the writers I wanted to work with on my album project. So, with me being lucky enough to first track down Michelle Escoffrey, from there we hooked up with Ian Green. And because - in addition to singing - Iâd been writing and playing the piano for years, they both knew I wanted to have input in terms of the actual songwriting as well as just coming in and singing on the tracks. So the first thing we all worked on was a song called âGot It Badâ. And then from there we just decided to do the whole album project together. Because we realised that, as writers, we all worked together really well. And Iâm really pleased to kick the whole project off with âYou Should Have Knownâ. Because itâs such a strong song, as well as being very different from the kind of straight-jazz thing everybody THOUGHT I was gonna do.â

Indeed, with its tracks ranging from the joyous, Motown-flavoured âGot It Badâ to the strident synth-R&B of âLove Hurts!â, Lauraâs as-yet-untitled debut LP is expected to drop some time next year: âYeah, while I always want to keep my old skool jazz and soul influences, at the same time I do want to kinda mix them up with todayâs hip hop and urban music to create a brand new soundâ, she asserts: âSo, while there are definitely contemporary R&B-flavoured tracks that are quite similar musically to the single, thereâs also gonna be some beautiful piano ballads and a lot of retro influences on there. Because, though people generally expect someone coming out of âX Factorâ to do very much a cover-based album, I definitely wanted to make a record of original material that Iâd also co-written.â

âAnd lyrically itâs very much based on the different everyday things Iâve kinda gone through this yearâ, she adds: âYou know, just like with my two all-time favourite albums - Amy Winehouseâs âBack To Blackâ and Lauryn Hillâs âThe Miseducation Of Lauryn Hillâ - you can tell straightaway from listening to the songs that the lyrics are real and written from personal experience.â

Having started studying piano at just seven years old, by the time she was a teenager Laura was writing her own songs and - while other kids her age were listening to The Spice Girls - digging into the back-catalogues of jazz and soul greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin: âYeah, I was never one of those kids who stood in front of the mirror with the hairbrush wanting to be a pop starâ, she recalls: âAnd the music I was into, not a lot of people around me had even HEARD of! You know, when I was tiny I used to listen to Ella, Aretha and Billie - and then I grew up to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu! I mean, being in a tiny town near Bolton, my musical taste was definitely very different from everyone elseâs from very early on! So at school - though I was always known for my piano - I was actually very shy when it came to singing. But then, when I was 15, I was asked to sing an Alicia Keys song for an end-of-term concert⦠And from then on the rest is history!â

âYou know, all my family were there that day, and they were like âYou really need to take up music as a CAREER!ââ¦So at 15 I became a jazz singer, and started gigging all over the country!â, she remembers: âIâd literally be playing in the tiniest of places - sometimes even to like just four people! Which I think today has made me very grounded, because that sort of experience you just canât BUY! It was literally starting off at the bottom, and having to work myself so hard to just get noticed!â

âAnd then what eventually happened, after Iâd been gigging for years, was that I ended up getting into a girl-band that was being put together by (Amy Winehouse/Adele super-producer) Mark Ronsonâ, continues the highly-talkative Ms. White: âThe music was kind of Stevie Wonder mixed with the Sixties doo wop groups, so it was a really cool sound - and we were all really good vocalists. But the whole time I was with them - because Iâd already been solo for so long - I always had these nagging thoughts in my head about breaking free and doing my own thing. So when âThe X Factorâ came along in 2008, I just decided to go for it as a solo artist - and ended up leaving the group.â

â¦Which in turn meant that, within a matter of weeks, Laura was regularly performing in front of over 14 million TV viewers on the national TV phenomenon that is âThe X Factorâ - belting out songs by the likes of Jocelyn Brown and Billie Holiday: âWell, I think a lot of people almost think that, if youâve kinda got a voice, you can just walk into Sony and just get SIGNED! Where, as you know, itâs just not that EASY! Which is why I actually WENT for the show!â, she asserts: âYou know, Iâd gigged for seven years at that point, and I was just SO desperate to get my music heard⦠And thankfully, the âX Factorâ show and Simon Cowell were the first ones to recognise my TALENT! So while, as we know, it is one of those shows that is definitely a make-or-break show - in my case Iâm honestly very grateful for the attention it brought me.â

âI mean, when I left the show, I had such an amazing response from EVERYONE!â, concludes the-little-girl-with-the big-voice: âWhat with the whole controversy - me being brought up in Parliament, the petition signed by over 100,000 people... I mean, it was SO BIG ! And I was so GRATEFUL - because it could have been very DIFFERENT! So - while the down-side was that it WAS a very difficult time when I first left, the POSITIVE is that it was a wonderful showcase for my talent and it did create this amazing fan-base for me that I still HAVE! You know, finally l4 million people knew who Laura White was and what my music was ABOUT! So, even though âThe X Factorâ is not the kinda show a lot of the musicians Iâve mixed with for years are into, you cannot deny it is an amazing platform and an amazing SHOW for people like myself, whoâve been waiting years to just get NOTICED!â

The single âYou Should Have Knownâ is out now through DCW Records
Words PETE LEWIS

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