I’m always motivated to be as creative as I can be after meeting the most talented and interesting people. On the eve of a series of live performances, I had the chance to catch up with the Mobo Award nominee Ayanna Witter-Johnson for a chat and a few questions about her blossoming career.
Congratulations on your MOBO nomination for best jazz act. I’ve listened to your amazing EP. Is there a particular theme behind it?
It is an honest snapshot of my artistry in August 2011. Those were the songs that had revealed some of my journey and lived with me, resonating most deeply with my audience at that time.
Sonically it was an introduction to what I do as a performer in its essence that is sing and play the cello. Thus the sound was very stripped back and purely acoustic.
You’re talented in both singing and song writing but which do you prefer?
Singing because connecting with an audience in real-time is where I feel most at home.
How did you get into music?
I started playing the piano classically at 4 years old, later taking up the cello at 13. Growing up, I went to various stage schools and got a feel for being a performer in general, including dancing and acting as well as music. The turning point was being invited to perform at a jam session at the Jazz Café when I was 19 years old. From then on I began to use my voice and eventually started to develop my craft as a singer/cellist at a gig in a Caribbean restaurant in Greenwich during my undergraduate studies at Trinity College of Music.
Are there any artists in particular who inspire you?
Nina Simone, Roberta Flack and Bach.
Who ideally would you like to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with the London Symphony Orchestra, Take Six, Bjork and Timbaland.
So what are your plans for the next year?
To release my first full-length album, tour the UK and the US, complete my residency as a composer on the London Symphony Orchestra’s Soundhub Scheme and to continue being a student of life.
I wish Ayanna the very best with the nomination and her career. Dates for her upcoming performances include:
1. LONDON, British Library
Friday 05 October 2012, 6pm
2. ANTWERP, The Writers’ Bench
Saturday 06 October 2012, 7pm
3. WILTSHIRE, Wiltshire Music Centre
Duo with Robert Mitchell
Wednesday 10 October 2012, 7pm
4. LONDON, House of St. Barnabas
Curated by Gilles Peterson
Tuesday 16 October 2012, 7pm
5. LONDON, Royal Festival Hall
MetBPA present Celebration of Life Concert 2012
Friday 19 October 2012, 7.30pm
For further dates and information please visit her official website
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