Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Hollie Stephenson: Like A Rocket

Hollie Stephenson @bluesandsoul.com
Hollie Stephenson @bluesandsoul.com Hollie Stephenson @bluesandsoul.com Hollie Stephenson @bluesandsoul.com Hollie Stephenson @bluesandsoul.com

It’s always great to see a brand new talent adorn our cover and this issue Hollie Stephenson is no exception, she follows a long list of artists who have attributed their first worldwide magazine cover to Blues & Soul and many of those artists, like Hollie, have graced our cover at very beginning of their careers. In the last few years, artists who come to mind include Jarrod Lawson, Lianne La Havas and Rita Ora. But, if you care to go back a little further back you have another notably famous addition to the B&S maiden cover club, someone you can draw the odd parallel with Stephenson in the infancy of her career, Camden’s often troubled soul/jazz/ blues/reggae queen and fondly remembered music icon, Amy Winehouse.

Stephenson, like Winehouse back-in-the-day, has that aspiring twinkle in her eye, along with a bag full of self-belief, coupled with an undeniable determination to succeed in the profession she has now chosen as her own - or should I say, which chose her! This 18-year-old jazz, blues and soul singer / songwriter from North London was bitten by the performing bug at quite a tender age, little did she know her dreams would become a reality so soon. Stephenson takes up the story, “I was twelve at the time and I had written a song called “Stone Tears” and my mum caught me going out the door with my guitar was on my back that I’d just started playing a couple of days before. I taught myself 3 chords and wrote a song. She said, ‘Hollie where you going?” And I said ‘Bar Vinyl’, that’s in Camden. She said, ‘no you’re not!’, I said, ‘I am!’. I had looked for open mic’s…I wanted to sing my song to people, so I was checking out what open mic’s were available - I rang them up and said ‘can I come and sing’ and they said ‘yeah of course, it’s an open mic’, I was 12. I wasn’t thinking I’m not 18, I'm not 16…I was like, ‘OK right, here’s my guitar, there’s the door - let’s go!’ And my mum was like, ‘you’re not going without me!’. So she came with me - my mum’s always been a massive supporter. It was like a weird stage of my life, so it was good to have my mum come and support me doing something that I really wanna do.”

It was at that point when Stephenson’s luck begun to change, it was a 24 carat diamond encrusted stroke of luck in fact, when a friend of the family added a video of the artist performing her self-penned effort to a social networking platform. Stephenson continues. “The video was posted on Twitter and Dave (Stewart of Eurythmics fame) came across it and was like ‘shit, I wanna work with this girl.’ So he rang my mum and my mum kinda freaked out! He was like ‘how do I get in touch with this girl?’ It was my mum’s friend, she was like, ‘this is my mum’s number.’ And he got in contact with my mum and my mum didn’t reply for a bit because she was starstruck.”

I’m pleased to report, Stephenson’s mum did eventually get in touch with Stewart and a meeting ensued, Stephenson continues with her memories of this star-studded affair. “I went to meet him when I was 13 at the Hospital club, there were artists like Daryl Hall…there was a million people that my mum knew and I didn't know who they were - all I was seeing was this mature man, to me he was an old man, I was only twelve - at that age, anyone over the age of 30 was old. She’d been invited to lunch with them and I was like ‘no, because I want to go to Camden and do another open mic again’. So my mum was like ‘what are you doing?’ I was like ‘mum, this is what I’m doing, I’m doing my music’. So I got onto email and tried to find Paolo Nutini saying ‘can you manage me cos an old man wants to do it instead!’” (laughs).

As Stephenson started to mature, so did her opinions on Dave and ‘old people’ in general! Lol. The pair got on like a preverbal house on fire, Stewart’s assured / steadying influence leading the production, helped Stephenson find herself musically. While at the same time giving the artist complete artistic freedom during the process. Stephenson elaborates on their musical relationship and the process they chose to get the artist’s ideas converted into palatable tunes. “Something beautiful materialised..."

Hollie Stephenson’s self-titled album and single “Lovers Game” are out now on Membran / Dse

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Tweet us @Hollie_B7 @BluesandSoul

You can read about what did materialise between Stephenson and Stewart, plus a lot more unmissable artist info in the current issue of Blues & Soul Magazine - click the link below to order straight from our shop or read on for high street retailer details.

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Words LEE TYLER

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