Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Dionne Broomfield: Shooting Star

Dionne Bromfield @bluesandsoul.com
Dionne Bromfield @bluesandsoul.com Dionne Bromfield @bluesandsoul.com Dionne Bromfield @bluesandsoul.com

Best known as the Goddaughter and protégée of the late Amy Winehouse, 15-year-old UK soul singer/songwriter Dionne Bromfield looks firmly set to establish herself as one of Britainâs brightest new talents via her current, sophomore album âGood For The Soulâ. Whose Sixties-influenced, old-skool-through-modern-eyes vibe has prestigiously evoked comparisons ranging from credible contemporary US soulstress Leela James to iconic-and-enduring British super-diva Dame Shirley Bassey!

Born in London in February 1996, Dionne attended Beaverwood School for Girls in Chislehurst, Kent before first coming to public attention via YouTube singing a cover of US superstar Alicia Keysâ âIf I Ainât Got Youâ alongside her aforementioned Godmother Amy. Which ultimately led to her, in September 2009, becoming the first artist signed to Ms. Winehouseâs Island-Records-affiliated Lioness label. For whom she released her UK Top 35 debut album âIntroducing Dionne Bromfieldâ (which found her covering a selection of both well-known and not-so-well-known Sixties soul classics) the following month.

Meanwhile, with her recently-released second LP - the abovementioned âGood For The Soulâ - boasting writing/production input from such hitmaking Brit-soul studio bods as Steve Booker (Duffy), Paul OâDuffy (Dusty Springfield) and Eg White (Adele), its Motown-referencing, retro-yet-youthful feel has already spawned two radio hits with the Diggy Simmons-featuring, catchy âYeah Rightâ and tuneful, upbeat âFoolinââ (also interestingly a Top 10 success in Bulgaria!). While other musical moods range from the punchy, string-laden new single âOuch That Hurtâ (which additionally features in remixed form on the soundtrack to upcoming teen-slasher film âDemons Never Dieâ) and swaying âGood For The Soulâ; to the lilting, early-Sixties-flavoured âGet Over Itâ and shuffling, bluesier âIn Your Own Worldâ.

Speaking shortly before Amy Winehouseâs tragic death, a youthful-yet-articulate Dionne (who today attends Londonâs famed Sylvia Young Theatre School) enjoys a brightân-breezy introductory chat with âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis about her critically-acclaimed latest LP; her early classic soul influences; plus the impact her now-sadly-departed Godmother made on her musical development and career.

Titling her current, sophomore LP âGood For The Soulâ

âWell, I wanted something that would not only sound quite Motown-reviving but would also signify something that was good for peopleâs SOUL. So when I wrote the SONG âGood For The Soulâ I was actually thinking âWhen people hear a song, they wanna hear something that makes them feel warm INSIDE - which is something that your SOUL does. So why donât we call the ALBUM âGood For The Soulâ?â⦠And with it being such a catchy title, from that moment on everyone literally just started CALLING it that! So I was like âOK, I take it weâve got a name for the record then!â... And everyone was like âYEAH!â!â

What Dionne wanted to achieve generally with the album

âI basically just wanted people to get an insight into the stuff that happens in my world without it being all about ME. You know, I do mostly write from OTHER peopleâs perspective. In that, if thereâs a situation going on, Iâll pretend Iâm one of the people in that situation and write it in the way IâD see it⦠So, though I do kind of look at it as a THIRD person, I do actually write it as a FIRST person.â

What inspired her lyrics

âWell, from the age of l3 to 15 l SAW a lot of things and I DID a lot of things. You know, I was able to experience going to different places and see how people from different backgrounds live - which in turn inspired me to write songs about their lives. Plus I also got inspired by stuff my friends at HOME would talk about. In that, when theyâd mention something I thought was quite cool, Iâd basically chop things down like it was a DIARY! Like Iâd put stuff that, say, happened on Wednesday into something that happened on Friday, and then make a SONG out of what happened on those two days! Like one of the tracks - âGet Over Itâ - actually came about when I asked my friends âHow many of you like a boy in class but he doesnât acknowledge you?â... And, because straightway almost everyone shouted âI do!â, I knew it would be a good thing to WRITE about! Because I was talking about something that so many people of my age go through every DAY.â

Dionneâs thoughts on some of the writers and producers she collaborated with on âGood For The Soulâ

âOh, they were all really, really good. Like with Steve Booker, as soon as I found out heâd done Duffyâs âMercyâ I was like âThatâs AMAZING!â. Because it was exactly that mix of old skool soul music with todayâs modern vibe that I wanted to achieve for MY record⦠And then Eg White is basically just a GENIUS. I mean, because Iâd be going to the studios after school, Iâd be turning up at these peopleâs houses at four oâclock - and Eg would always say âIâm closing my studio at eight oâclock because Iâve gotta spend time with my kidsâ⦠And so he and I literally wrote the songs âYeah Rightâ and âFoolinââ in FOUR HOURS!... So yeah, theyâre magnificent people and the stuff theyâve DONE is magnificent as well.â

How she feels âGood For The Soulâ compares with her 2009-released UK Top 35 debut set âIntroducing Dionne Bromfieldâ

âWell, obviously the first album was all covers, while this second one was written by MYSELF. So in that way it does represent a massive transformation. I mean, with it only being two years since did my first album, for this one I wanted to keep that Sixties/Motown vibe while also adding a bit more of a modern-day feel so it wouldnât be too dated... And hopefully Iâve achieved what I set OUT to do!â

Her upbringing as a classic-soul-loving child in todayâs world of disposable pop

âAt home Iâd be listening to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Shirelles, Marvin Gaye... But then Iâd go to school, and everyone was listening to like Steps, S Club 7, Britney Spears⦠So Iâd be saying to people âBut donât you love Marvin Gaye?â - and theyâd be like âMarvin WHO?â!... I mean, I remember when I did the (classic Sixties Motown) song âAinât No Mountain High Enoughâ on my first album, and someone actually came up to me and said âI love this song! Did you write it?â - and I was like âAre you SERIOUS?! This is a well-known classic song that everyone should know about, and youâre asking me did I WRITE it?!â!â

Dionneâs relationship with her Godmother and label-boss Amy Winehouse

âWell, Amy has always been in my life. Obviously, with me being Christened at like three years old, sheâs been my Godmother now for nearly 12 years. And so, as I was growing up, Iâd go to her house a lot and she in turn became a massive INFLUENCE on me. Like she taught me how to play guitar, she was the one who told me to start songwriting... And so obviously, with her now being my boss as WELL as my Godmother, Iâm able to talk to her in a more passionate, personal kind of way than you might NORMALLY speak to your boss. Like I can ask her âAmy, do you like his song?â - and if she says âNoâ, Iâll be like âOh, but WHY?â... You know, I can ask her stuff and she can tell me stuff in a way that maybe a lot of artists and their label-bosses donât... So yeah, itâs really nice to be able to express my feelings without feeling like âOh, maybe I shouldnât have SAID thatâ.â

How Dionne recalls making her high-profile TV debut on the BBCâs flagship Saturday night show âStrictly Come Dancingâ back in October 2009 with Amy on backing vocals

âOh, that was AMAZING! I mean, having Amy there as a backing singer for me was RIDICULOUS - because youâd think it would be the other way ROUND! Plus it made the whole experience so much easier, so much more comfortable⦠Because it meant I had someone there to fall back on if something did happen. You know, having Amy there was like having a close family member there with you to hold your hand!â

How Dionne now looks back on her aforementioned debut album and what it achieved

âAs my first album, Iâm still really proud of âIntroducing Dionne Bromfieldâ! Because it did what it had to DO, in that it was a stepping-stone for people to know who Dionne Bromfield IS! And while some may say it was basically a karaoke album - and OK, Iâm not gonna FAULT that - at the end of the day I just wanted people to hear my VOICE! You know, with me being just 13 - well, 12 at the time I was actually making it - there wasnât much I could write about besides getting on the bus and going to SCHOOL, which I donât think people would have been particularly INTERESTED in!... So yeah, for me the âIntroducing Dionne Bromfieldâ album was basically about me singing songs that I really like while at the same time letting people know that not all kids are into singing silly little tweeny songs. Some young kids genuinely are into the classic old skool Motown stuff!â

The single âOuch That Hurt (Demons Never Die Mix)â is released October 17 while the album âGood For The Soulâ is out now, as is Dionneâs duet single with Tinchy Stryder âSpinninâ For 2012â - all through Island Records Group/Lioness
Words PETE LEWIS

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