Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Dionne Broomfield: Shooting Star

Dionne Bromfield
Dionne Bromfield Dionne Bromfield Dionne Bromfield

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 Britain’s brightest new talents via her current, sophomore album ‘Good For The Soul’. 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 Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ alongside her aforementioned Godmother Amy. Which ultimately led to her, in September 2009, becoming the first artist signed to Ms. Winehouse’s Island-Records-affiliated Lioness label. For whom she released her UK Top 35 debut album ‘Introducing Dionne Bromfield’ (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 ‘Good For The Soul’ - boasting writing/production input from such hitmaking Brit-soul studio bods as Steve Booker (Duffy), Paul O’Duffy (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 ‘Yeah Right’ and tuneful, upbeat ‘Foolin’’ (also interestingly a Top 10 success in Bulgaria!). While other musical moods range from the punchy, string-laden new single ‘Ouch That Hurt’ (which additionally features in remixed form on the soundtrack to upcoming teen-slasher film ‘Demons Never Die’) and swaying ‘Good For The Soul’; to the lilting, early-Sixties-flavoured ‘Get Over It’ and shuffling, bluesier ‘In Your Own World’.

Speaking shortly before Amy Winehouse’s tragic death, a youthful-yet-articulate Dionne (who today attends London’s famed Sylvia Young Theatre School) enjoys a bright’n-breezy introductory chat with ‘Blues & Soul’ 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 ‘Good For The Soul’

“Well, I wanted something that would not only sound quite Motown-reviving but would also signify something that was good for people’s SOUL. So when I wrote the SONG ‘Good For The Soul’ I was actually thinking ‘When people hear a song, they wanna hear something that makes them feel warm INSIDE - which is something that your SOUL does. So why don’t we call the ALBUM ‘Good For The Soul’?’… And with it being such a catchy title, from that moment on everyone literally just started CALLING it that! So I was like ‘OK, I take it we’ve got a name for the record then!’... And everyone was like ‘YEAH!’!”

What Dionne wanted to achieve generally with the album

“I 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 people’s perspective. In that, if there’s a situation going on, I’ll pretend I’m one of the people in that situation and write it in the way I’D see it… So, though I do kind of look at it as a THIRD person, I do actually write it as a FIRST person.”

What inspired her lyrics

“Well, 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 they’d mention something I thought was quite cool, I’d basically chop things down like it was a DIARY! Like I’d 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 - ‘Get Over It’ - actually came about when I asked my friends ‘How many of you like a boy in class but he doesn’t acknowledge you?’... And, because straightway almost everyone shouted ‘I do!’, 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.”

Dionne’s thoughts on some of the writers and producers she collaborated with on ‘Good For The Soul’

“Oh, they were all really, really good. Like with Steve Booker, as soon as I found out he’d done Duffy’s ‘Mercy’ I was like ‘That’s AMAZING!’. Because it was exactly that mix of old skool soul music with today’s modern vibe that I wanted to achieve for MY record… And then Eg White is basically just a GENIUS. I mean, because I’d be going to the studios after school, I’d be turning up at these people’s houses at four o’clock - and Eg would always say ‘I’m closing my studio at eight o’clock because I’ve gotta spend time with my kids’… And so he and I literally wrote the songs ‘Yeah Right’ and ‘Foolin’’ in FOUR HOURS!... So yeah, they’re magnificent people and the stuff they’ve DONE is magnificent as well.”

How she feels ‘Good For The Soul’ compares with her 2009-released UK Top 35 debut set ‘Introducing Dionne Bromfield’

“Well, 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 wouldn’t be too dated... And hopefully I’ve achieved what I set OUT to do!”

Her upbringing as a classic-soul-loving child in today’s world of disposable pop

“At home I’d be listening to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Shirelles, Marvin Gaye... But then I’d go to school, and everyone was listening to like Steps, S Club 7, Britney Spears… So I’d be saying to people ‘But don’t you love Marvin Gaye?’ - and they’d be like ‘Marvin WHO?’!... I mean, I remember when I did the (classic Sixties Motown) song ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ on my first album, and someone actually came up to me and said ‘I love this song! Did you write it?’ - and I was like ‘Are you SERIOUS?! This is a well-known classic song that everyone should know about, and you’re asking me did I WRITE it?!’!”

Dionne’s relationship with her Godmother and label-boss Amy Winehouse

“Well, Amy has always been in my life. Obviously, with me being Christened at like three years old, she’s been my Godmother now for nearly 12 years. And so, as I was growing up, I’d 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, I’m 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 ‘Amy, do you like his song?’ - and if she says ‘No’, I’ll be like ‘Oh, but WHY?’... 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 don’t... So yeah, it’s really nice to be able to express my feelings without feeling like ‘Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have SAID that’.”

How Dionne recalls making her high-profile TV debut on the BBC’s flagship Saturday night show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ back in October 2009 with Amy on backing vocals

“Oh, that was AMAZING! I mean, having Amy there as a backing singer for me was RIDICULOUS - because you’d 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!”

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

“As my first album, I’m still really proud of ‘Introducing Dionne Bromfield’! 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, I’m 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 wasn’t much I could write about besides getting on the bus and going to SCHOOL, which I don’t think people would have been particularly INTERESTED in!... So yeah, for me the ‘Introducing Dionne Bromfield’ 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!”

The single ‘Ouch That Hurt (Demons Never Die Mix)’ is released October 17 while the album ‘Good For The Soul’ is out now, as is Dionne’s duet single with Tinchy Stryder ‘Spinnin’ For 2012’ - all through Island Records Group/Lioness

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