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25 June 1945 |
Hammersmith, London, England, United Kingdom
|Genres||Soft rock, soul, Adult contemporary, folk, funk|
poet and writer
Early life and education
Born the fourth of five children, at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in Hammersmith, London to a British mother of Barbadian–Belgian descent and a Nigerian father, Siffre was brought up in Bayswater and Hampstead and educated at a Catholic independent day school, St Benedict's School, in Ealing, west London. Despite his Catholic education Siffre has stated that he has always been an atheist.
Six albums were released between 1970 and 1975, and four between 1988 and 1998. In the early 1970s, he had UK hits with "It Must Be Love" (No. 14, 1971) (later covered by and a No. 4 hit for Madness, for which Siffre himself appeared in the video); "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" (No. 11, 1972); and "Watch Me" (No. 29, 1972).
Siffre came out of self-imposed retirement from music in 1985 when he saw a television film from South Africa showing a white soldier shooting at black children. He wrote "(Something Inside) So Strong" (No. 4, 1987).
- Labi Siffre (1970)
- The Singer and the Song (1971)
- Crying Laughing Loving Lying (1972)
- For the Children (1973)
- Remember My Song (1975)
- Happy (1975)
- So Strong (1988)
- Man of Reason (1991)
- The Last Songs" (1998)
- Monument (Spoken Word) (1998)
- The Last Songs (Re-mastered)" (2006)
- Nigger (Xavier Books 1993)
- Blood on the Page (Xavier Books 1995)
- Monument (Xavier Books 1997)
- DeathWrite (Xavier Books 1997)
- Choosing the Stick They Beat You With (Penguin 2000)
- Olivia Newton-John (English-born, Australia-raised singer and actor) covered "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" in 1975 on her gold-certified MCA album entitled Clearly Love (catalog # MCA-2148). Olivia and Labi's paths have crossed more than once over the years, as illustrated by the fact that Labi and Olivia dueted on a live version of her number-1 pop hit "You're the One That I Want" (written by John Farrar, and originally featured as a duet with John Travolta in the 1978 film adaptation of the musical Grease).
- Madness covered "It Must Be Love" in 1981. The song reached Number 4 in the UK charts and Number 33 in the U.S. in 1983. Labi Siffre also made a cameo appearance in the music video.
- "(Something Inside) So Strong" was covered by Kenny Rogers in 1989 (and became the title track to a hit album). The song was also covered by Vanessa Bell Armstrong in 1988 and again by a host of gospel artists as a tribute to Rosa Parks in the mid-1990s. In late 2009 it also featured in the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, where it was very successfully adapted into a Welsh chapel christening ceremony.
- The Flying Pickets covered the song in their 1994 album The Warning.
- Michael Ball also released a cover of the song in 1996, which reached Number 40 in the UK.
- It has also been covered by Rik Waller in 2002, when it was released as a single.
- Fatboy Slim sampled Rosetta Hightower’s cover of Labi Siffre’s “A Little More Line” (from his 1970 debut album Labi Siffre) for the song “That Old Pair of Jeans” on Fatboy's 2006 album Why Try Harder,
- Kanye West used a sample of "My Song" in "I Wonder" on his album Graduation.
- Jay-Z sampled "I Got The" — the same song Eminem sampled for "My Name Is" — for his hit "Streets Iz Watching."
- Miguel sampled "I Got The" in his song "Kaleidoscope Dream", taken from his Grammy-nominated 2012 album of the same name.
- RJD2's song "Making Days Longer", from his album Since We Last Spoke, is a cover of Siffre's "Bless the Telephone", from The Singer And The Song. Siffre is credited as writer of the original song in the liner notes.
- Blank & Jones covered "Down" in their 2007 Chillout album Relax Edition Three.
- Joss Stone covered "I Got The..." on her sixth album The Soul Sessions Vol 2.
- Rod Stewart covered "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" on his 1995 compilation Handbags & Gladrags (Mercury UK).
- Move4Parkinson's Voices of Hope Choir covered "Something Inside So Strong" in April 2013 to commemorate World Parkinson's Day. The song reached Number 1 in the Irish R and B iTunes chart.
- Kelis covered "Bless The Telephone" for her sixth studio album "Food" in 2014.
- Labi Siffre's own web site
- An interview with Labi Siffre
- The Argotist interview
- Something Inside So Strong, Soul Music, BBC Radio 4