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RW Showcase: Lánre

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RW had the pleasure of being part of the album launch for the excitingly creative Lánre. Lánre has been a friend of RW for a while so we were eager to see where she’s at and what she has been up to since we last saw her. Here’s a glimpse into how the night went.

LANREsingingComing in during one of her sets after rushing to get there, our first thoughts were ‘WoW’ what a voice. You see the day had been crazy busy but the excitement had been slowly bubbling underneath the crazy madness. We wanted to hear what Lánre sounded like because though she has been around for several years, it would be difficult to uniquely identify her voice. She was part of a group when last we met her and she was the funky but quiet member.  She has always been warm with her creativity flowing through in every interaction but it was not till tonight that the realisation of her intense yet soft voice really hit us.

Her image is a mix of Erykah Badu meets Sade meets Lisa McClendon but her style is distinctively her own. Wearing a tank top with African style Aladdin pants and high heels (if you can picture that!), she was definitely the star of the night. She dominated the stage which though full of people, seemed to contain her alone. Her style was eclectic yet inviting – a blend of Africa, classic new York and the British summertime. Sounds like a contrast yet it worked so incredibly well.

The album was launched through a concert.  The audience was delighted with a blend of soul, jazz and blues, but the night was ultimately about Lánre and her album launch. In her own words, the audience was given a full description of her heritage and her use of Yoruba (one of 250 languages spoken in Nigeria, West Africa from where she hails) to tell stories. She is on a journey and that much is obvious. But what makes this beautiful lady tick? What would her music have to say that is not just fun to listen to but also relatable? Who is Lánre?

Speaking to the lady herself during the break in the first set, we tried to get a sense of the woman behind the lights.  Enjoy..

RW: Describe your musical style.

I am not sure what it is or how to describe stylistically what I do but I guess if you have to it would be African Folk, Acoustic Soul, Storytelling.

RW: A wide range. Who would you describe as your musical influences?

I grew like most people listening to my dad playing music by Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and then Fela. Later when I became a Christian and I started singing in choirs I started listening to music by Amy Grant, Bebe & Cece Yolanda Adams, and Fred Hammond. A few years ago, I [then] started listening to  musicians and songwriters like India Arie, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and more recently discovering Voy Vance, Lizz Wright, Jason Mraz so I guess I am influenced by all these musicians in some way or another.

RW: Tell us about the journey of creating your album

I have always written poems and short stories but [had] never played an instrument until eighteen months ago when I started to take lessons and then started writing songs. I started going out to open mic venues and playing the songs and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I then went to Goz-i-am who is an amazing producer and together we came up with what musicians we wanted to play on the record, the sound we thought best worked with the songs I had written and I’ve been blessed to work with amazing musicians like Femi Temowo, Troy Miller, Pedro Segundo and Jimmi Clarke on this project.

RW: Wow – a diverse bunch. What would you say is the theme of the album?

The Album is called Pen Voyage Chapter 1: Singing for Change. The idea behind it is to show the journey of my pen as a song writer  and the  other part is writing songs and music about issues that are  close to my heart, some songs are questions unresolved, some are hoping to see change (starting with me) and some are just stories that I hope inspires.

RW: What do u want to leave the listeners with?

I see myself as a storyteller and I just like to write songs that inspire people in some way or another.

RW: The first song performed tonight tells us of your grandfather’s words to you years ago. The variety of instruments used combined the western with the African. You are immediately transported to the scene the music lovingly details for you. This is truly an invitation in a world beyond our own and yet so distinctly relatable. We couldn’t help but want more. What made you decide to open yourself up so fully in this song?

Ma Gbagbe is what I call a travellers’ song and it’s one of the songs I wrote thinking of my grandfather. He was huge on prayers and he had a way of always reminding us, the grand children of our heritage and how important family is. So that song was just me saying to myself not to forget who I am as I go seeking greener pastures and I guess singing the song does remind me of my grandfather and the emotion in the song comes through as I play it.

RW: You included your old band mates in your set tonight. Tell us a little more about that.

GK REAL is a huge part of my journey and when we decided to go on a break, I took on guitar lessons and started to write some of the songs that have now become a part of my new record. The show ‘Premier Gospel presents Live’ is the first time most people would probably see me perform live with a full band and having my second family on stage with me on the night just seems like a perfect thing to do. Also it was good to show people that GK REAL is simply on a break not broken up as some people thought.

RW: Inspiration is simply a beautiful song. Very uplifting and vocally rich it was captivating. What is your inspiration?

Thank you. I am inspired by great story tellers like my dad, my grandfather. I also love reading a lot; I love the work of Chimamanda Adichie, Jodi Picoult. I wrote a song after I read The Shack by William Young. I am inspired by creative singers and songwriters like India Arie, Foy Vance, Regina Spektor, Justin Nozuka and Asa.

RW: Your song – Taste of freedom: tell us more about it.

Taste of Freedom is a song I wrote about my journey to finding my voice. When I say voice I mean physically as well as metaphorically i.e. my purpose. When you have been part of a church choir or a collective as most have been, it can sometimes put pressure on you to sound a certain way or sing in a particular style to feel accepted into the ‘fold’ if you like. So you learn a song (which is almost usually a cover) to sing in church on a Sunday and you are expected to learn and sing all the riffs and the ad-lib like the original and anything else is not regarded as good enough. Or as a creative person you are expected to know and define yourself by a particular genre and you just can’t leave it at “I am a singer songwriter” it has to be what sort of singer are you? I tried to use a couple of verses to explain the journey of finally finding my voice and to me, that’s freedom.

RW: what have u got planned for the rest of the year to leave your mark?

Well going out sharing the songs, getting better at playing the guitar, sell some records, meet interesting people and hopefully get them to think differently.

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