Published May 17, 2013Critically touted as "the next Adele" in her native UK for her dreamy debut project Sing to the Moon, orchestral soul singer-songwriter Laura Mvula tells Exclaim! that she hopes listeners on this side of the pond are as receptive following the record's long-awaited physical release on North American shores this week.
"I think that because the UK release of the album was such a moment for me, I thought that was the world. It's been amazing to go to the different territories and have people look forward to the music," says Mvula during a recent stop in Toronto. "The vibe in North America seems so positive and everybody seems like they're expecting something. It feels really good."
It was the prodding and support of her husband, singer Themba Mvula, that would prove to be a key factor in sending out demos, one of which landed in the hands of producer and collaborator Steve Brown. To go from being an office receptionist to directing her own orchestra — and having someone like British jazz-pop singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum hit her up on Twitter to sing on his new album — is something that just seems surreal, Mvula says.
"I've been a receptionist for an orchestral [group] and played in a youth orchestra, but I would have never dreamed that one would play something that I have written," she gushes.
Creating the 12-track Sing to the Moon was a truly "liberating" experience, she adds. "Most of the songs were written and recorded before the exposure, or being on the map as it were. So it kind of fell together. I think it was only at the end that it was clear that this may or may not be a coherent body of work. The exciting thing is that it seemed to be coming from the same place, which was me being totally liberated. Having grown up in a music school and studying composition, I was more than aware of ways of writing that were deemed as saying something important, hopeful, contemporary and relevant."
In terms of next steps, Mvula is riding the waves made by current single "Green Garden" and notes she's stoked for festival appearances (like the recent Cheltenham Jazz Festival and upcoming Glastonbury), along with her first headline tour that kicked off in the UK earlier this month. "It's already sold out, which is just silly," she says.
The classically trained artist also reveals that she's got a "few side projects" on the go at the moment, including a couple of film and documentary scoring gigs.
"I've already had a dream of writing film music and I've been offered the opportunity," she says while staying mum on specifics.
The buzz around her is nearly overwhelming, she admits with a laugh, but she notes she's up to the challenge.
"It's just unreal. I'm about to do my best to rise to it and it is necessary to have that type of support right now."
Sing to the Moon is out now through Columbia Records. You can see all Mvula's tour dates here.