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|Birth name||Claudius Afolabi Siffre|
25 June 1945 |
Hammersmith, London, England
|Genres||Soft rock, soul, Jazz, funk|
poet and writer
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards|
Labi Siffre (birth name Claudius Afolabi Siffre; (born 25 June 1945) is a British singer, songwriter, musician and poet. Siffre released six albums between 1970 and 1975, and four between 1988 and 1998. He has published essays, the stage and TV play Deathwrite and three volumes of poetry - Nigger, Blood On The Page and Monument.
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.
He released six albums between 1970 and 1975. In the 1970s he released 16 singles, three of which became hits: "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). In 1978, Siffre took part in the UK heats of the Eurovision Song Contest. He performed his own composition "Solid Love", which placed fifth of the twelve songs up for consideration at the A Song for Europe contest. Additionally, he co-wrote the song "We Got It Bad" performed by Bob James, which came tenth.
Siffre came out of self-imposed retirement from music in 1985, when he saw a television film from apartheid South Africa showing a white soldier shooting at black children. He wrote "(Something Inside) So Strong" (No. 4, 1987) and released four more albums between 1988 and 1998.
Singles which reached the UK charts
- "It Must Be Love" (No. 14, 1971)
- "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" (No. 11, 1972)
- "Watch Me" (No. 29, 1972)
- "(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)
- 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 duetted 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. It was covered by "eternal" in 1994 as part of their EP Crazy. In late 2009 it also featured in the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, where it was adapted into a Welsh chapel christening ceremony.
- Primal Scream sampled "I Got The..." in their song "Kill All Hippies" on their 2000 album, XTRMNTR.
- 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.
- Eminem sampled "I Got The..." on his single "My Name Is" on his album The Slim Shady LP.
- Jay-Z sampled "I Got The..." for his hit "Streets Is Watching" on his album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1.
- Miguel sampled "I Got The..." in his song "Kaleidoscope Dream", taken from his Grammy-nominated 2012 album of the same name.
- Wu-Tang Clan sampled the bass-line from the second half of "I Got The..." for their song "Can It Be All So Simple" from Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
- Kelis covered "Bless The Telephone" for her sixth studio album "Food" in 2014. 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&B iTunes chart.
- Def Squad sampled "I Got The..." on their single "Countdown" on their album El Niño.
In popular culture
The song, "Watch Me," was featured on the NBC pilot for This Is Us.
Labi Saffre was sampled in Eminem's "My name is"
His song "My Song" was also sampled in Kanye West's "I Wonder".
- 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)
- Larkin, Colin (2002) The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music p.398. Virgin, 2002, ISBN 978-1852279479
- "Q&A: Labi Siffre". New Humanist. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 498. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Mathur, Paul (August 1989). "So Strong". Spin: 32. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 2015-05-23.
- Rolle, Elisa (25 June 2015). "Labi Siffre & Peter Lloyd". My reviews and Ramblings. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
-  Archived 13 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.