Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Shaun Escoffery: Soul stirring

Sean Escoffery
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Acclaimed East London-born-and-raised singer/songwriter/actor Shaun Escoffery returns this month with his fifth studio album “Evergreen” - his second album for UK soul indie Dome, his first being 2014’s successful “In The Red Room” whose four singles impressively all entered the UK Airplay Top 50.

Indeed, with the shimmering strings and tight uptempo groove of its Philly soul-influenced first offshoot single “When The Love Has Gone” having recently become Shaun’s fifth consecutive A-listed song on BBC’s Radio 2, “Evergreen” also interestingly boasts duets with two British soul songstresses (globally-successful Joss Stone on the Memphis-influenced, joyous title-track plus up-and-coming Andreya Triana on an acoustic guitar-strummed revival of The Eurhythmics’ Eighties smash “Here Comes the Rain Again”) in addition to the co-writing and production talents of long-time Escoffery collaborator Gil Cang - its musical moods ranging from the hauntingly-anthemic forthcoming single “Love Shine Down” and punchy opener “Healing Me” to the grittier, impassioned “Teachers” and powerfully-surging closer “Lost For Words.”

Having begun his professional onstage career in the mid-Nineties in the Chaka Khan-led West End production of the smash musical “Mama, I Want To Sing!”, Shaun’s debut as a recording artist arrived in the early-Noughties with the UK Top 55 singles “Space Rider” (2001) and “Days Like This” (2002) for Oyster Music, who also released his first two albums - 2001’s “Sean Escoffery” and 2003’s “Soulonica”. Following which he would continue pursuing his two parallel careers for the remainder of the decade - releasing his third album “Move Into Soul” for Absolute in 2007 while the same year receiving a Laurence Olivier nomination for his role in the London musical theatre production of “Parade” before in 2009 beginning long-running success as Simba’s father Mufasa in the legendary West End adaptation of “The Lion King”, his best-known role to date.

…All of which brings us back to today and the release of “Evergreen”. As ever-affable and talkative mixed martial arts competitor Shaun - who has been prestigiously named by Sir Elton John as one of his favourite artists and whose childhood friend was Golden Globe-winning actor Idris Elba - reacquaints himself with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis for an upbeat and informative midday chat.

Titling his new album after the track “Evergreen”

“Basically, I’ve always loved the Donny Hathaway’s and the Curtis Mayfield’s and all these great soul artists. And so one day, when I was listening to some of their old tracks that I absolutely love, it just kinda dawned on me that these guys made these songs and albums some 20/30/40 YEARS ago and yet they’re still standing the test of time - and that that’s exactly what I’d love to happen to MY music! You know, I’d love for people in many years time to be looking back at my albums and for my work to still be having that kind of resonance and impact on them. And so with ‘evergreen’ as a word obviously saying what it says and being all about just standing the test of time and remaining relevant through all seasons I just thought it would make a great title for the album, in the hope that people will receive my music in that way,”

What Shaun wanted to achieve musically this time round

“I think I really just wanted to impart all my influences and just kind of be a little more honest with myself musically. You know, instead of trying to follow any kinda trends that were going on I just wanted the music to reflect all the stuff that I loved growing up - all the singing that influenced me, the music that influenced me... As well as obviously adding my own essence into the mix as well… So yeah, that was the ethos behind it really - to kind of have that old skool music thing going on as the common thread through the whole album while also injecting my own flavour into it.”

The album “Evergreen” and single “Love Shine Down” are both released September 2 through Dome/Mvka

Shaun’s upcoming UK tour takes in the following venues: London, Union Chapel (September 17); Bristol, The Lantern (October 25); Southend Palace (26); Birmingham, Elgar Concert Hall (28); and Manchester, RNCM (30)

You can read more from our fascinating interview with supreme Soul artist, Shaun Escoffery, including his thoughts on his collabs with Joss Stone and Andreya Triana, plus Shaun's look back at his musical theatre work including working with Soul icon Chaka Kahn - all this and more 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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