Laura Mvula

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Laura Mvula
Mvula performing at the #SheWill event for Global Citizen, at The View from The Shard, London, 7 July 2016
Mvula performing at the #SheWill event for Global Citizen, at The View from The Shard, London, 7 July 2016
Background information
Birth nameLaura Douglas
Born (1987-04-23) 23 April 1987 (age 33)
Birmingham, England
Genres Jazz & Gospeldelia
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, composer, record producer
Years active2012–present
LabelsAtlantic Records, RCA, Sony Music UK

Laura Mvula (née Douglas;[1] born 23 April 1987)[2][3] is a British recording artist, songwriter and composer. Her debut album, Sing to the Moon, was released on 4 March 2013, with an orchestral re-recording released on 11 August 2014. Her second album, The Dreaming Room, was released in 2016. Both albums were received to critical acclaim and garnered Mercury Prize nominations.

Early and personal life[edit]

Laura Mvula grew up in the Birmingham suburbs of Selly Park and Kings Heath with two younger siblings and was influenced by the girl band Eternal. In her teen years she attended Swanshurst School for girls. Her mother is from Saint Kitts and her father is from Jamaica. In 2005, Mvula sang with Black Voices, an a cappella group set up by her aunt.[4][5] In 2008, she formed a jazz/neo-soul group called Judyshouse, singing lead vocals and writing material for the band.[6] Mvula was Director of the Lichfield Community Gospel Choir, founded by Black Voices and Lichfield Festival in 2009.[7] She has also previously directed the Alvechurch Community Choir.[8] Mvula graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire at the Birmingham City University with a degree in composition.[9] While she was working as a supply teacher in a Birmingham secondary school, she started writing songs on her laptop.[9] She was working as a receptionist when she sent out two demos to several people in the music industry. One of them, Steve Brown, heard the songs and sent them to his manager, Kwame Kwaten, who would become Mvula's manager.[4] In a 2013 podcast for The Daily Telegraph, Mvula admitted to suffering from "crippling stage fright".[10]


2012–2015: Sing to the Moon[edit]

After several showcases, Mvula was signed by Colin Barlow to Sony subsidiary RCA. She released her debut extended play, She, on 16 November 2012. The title track is the first song she ever wrote.[11] On 6 December, she was shortlisted for the Critics' Choice award at the 2013 BRIT Awards.[12] On 9 December, she was nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2013 poll and later finished in fourth position.[13]

Laura Mvula stated her influences include Nina Simone, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill.[14]

On 1 February 2013, she gave her first live TV performance on The Graham Norton Show on BBC One, singing "Green Garden".[15]

Her debut studio album, Sing to the Moon, was released on 4 March 2013.[16] She worked on the album with producer Steve Brown[17][18] and mix engineer Tom Elmhirst.[19] It was preceded by the single "Green Garden", an elegy to her home in Kings Heath.[4] Paul Lester from The Guardian described her music as "gospeldelia", calling it a new musical genre.[1] Sing to the Moon was met with a largely positive reception, receiving a perfect score from The Independent, and 3.5/5 from Rolling Stone. It reached number 9 on the UK Albums Chart and within the top 100 in seven other countries, and reached 173 on the US Billboard 200.

In October 2013, she won awards for best female act and best R&B or soul artist at the 2013 MOBO Awards.[20]

Mvula performing at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival

In March 2014, Mvula re-recorded an orchestral version of her debut album in collaboration with the Metropole Orkest and conducted by Jules Buckley. This was released on 23 June 2014 as a high quality download via Bowers & Wilkins' Society of Sound[21] and on CD on 11 August 2014.[22][23] On 19 August 2014, she performed with the Metropole Orkest at the Albert Hall as part of the 2014 BBC Proms Season, supported by Esperanza Spalding and ElectricVocals.[24]

2016–2020: The Dreaming Room[edit]

In January 2016, Mvula released "Overcome", a collaboration with Nile Rodgers, and the lead single from The Dreaming Room.[25][26] She recorded "Sing to the Moon" with Snarky Puppy for their jazz fusion album Family Dinner - Volume 2, which was released on 12 February. She began promotion for The Dreaming Room by performing "Overcome" on The Graham Norton Show on 29 January and on The Andrew Marr Show on 14 February. On 19 March, Mvula played the first live show of the album at the Jazz Maastricht Festival. On 22 March, she previewed the entire album at Islington Assembly Hall. On 7 April, Mvula released "People" from the album, a collaboration with Wretch 32. On 19 April, she released the second single from The Dreaming Room, "Phenomenal Woman". On 27 May, she released "Show Me Love".

The Dreaming Room was released on 17 June 2016[27] and received critical acclaim from music critics. Writing for Exclaim!, Ryan B. Patrick gave the album a rave review, calling it "a subconscious succession of visuals, emotions and ideas - sometimes abstract, sometimes allegorical, but always dredging up something for the conscious mind to ponder. The Dreaming Room is this and more.".[28] The same month, the singer performed on the Glastonbury Pyramid stage for the second time.[29] In July, she performed, with Tom Odell, at the first UK event for "Global Citizen" and "Chime For Change", at The View from The Shard in London. The evening followed the launch of the #SheWill campaign, aimed at breaking down the barriers that prevent millions of girls worldwide from attending school.[30] On 30 October, she appeared on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing singing her new single "Ready or Not".[31]

In January 2017, Laura Mvula revealed that she had been dropped by Sony.[32] She composed the music for the 2017 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Antony and Cleopatra, which opened in Stratford in March and later transferred to The Barbican Centre in November.[33] In April, she presented a Woman's Hour documentary discussing anxiety.[34]

In April 2018, she performed "I Put a Spell on You" as part of BBC One's The Queen's Birthday Party from the Royal Albert Hall in London.[35]

2021: Under A Pink Moon and forthcoming third album[edit]

In February 2021, Laura Mvula announced the pending release of new music and a livestream concert on February 24, 2021, titled "Under A Pink Moon".[36] During the live stream, she premiered four new songs taken from her forthcoming album due to be released by Atlantic Records in 2021. The new songs were "Safe Passage", "Conditional", "What Matters" featuring Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro and "Church Girl".[37] New versions of the songs "Green Garden", "Show Me Love" and "Sing to the Moon" were also performed, which are included on the 1/f EP released the next day. Both Elisa Bray of iNews and Sylvia Unerman of The Upcoming gave the concert five stars 5/5.[38][39]

The EP released on 25 February includes also a cover of Diana Ross' 1971 hit "I'm Still Waiting".[40] As wrote Nick Levine of BBC America this mini-album is a "heartening musical comeback" and "mouthwatering start to her second chapter", it also showcases "an intriguing new direction: Mvula's music is still soulful, but now has balmy '80s beats underpinning her lush melodies".[41]

On 3 March, Mvula released a first single "Safe Passage" alongside a video.[42]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions Certifications

Sing to the Moon 9 33 26 40 93 15 11 16 15 173
The Dreaming Room
  • Released: 17 June 2016
  • Label: RCA
  • Format: Digital download, CD
21 52 170 23 [A] 85

Live albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions

At Abbey Road Studios[55] 61 184 26

Soundtrack albums[edit]

Title Details
Antony and Cleopatra: Music & Speeches[56]
  • Released: 2 February 2018
  • Label: Opus Arte
  • Format: CD

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details Track List
iTunes Festival: London 2012
  • "Like the Morning Dew" (Live)
  • "Diamonds" (Live)
  • "Let Me Fall" (Live)
  • "Sing to the Moon" (Live)
  • Released: 16 November 2012
  • Label: RCA
  • Format: Digital download
  • "She"
  • "Like the Morning Dew"
  • "Can't Live with the World"
  • "Jump Right Out"
  • Released: 25 February 2021
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Format: Digital download, Streaming


Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"She" 2012 Sing to the Moon
"Like the Morning Dew"
"Green Garden" 2013 31 3 40 50 46 74
"That's Alright" 52
"You Work for Me" 2015 The Dreaming Room: Special Edition
(featuring Nile Rodgers)
2016 The Dreaming Room
"Phenomenal Woman"
"Show Me Love"
"Ready or Not" The Dreaming Room: Special Edition
"Brighter Dawn" 2020 Non-album single
"Safe Passage" 2021 TBA
"—" denotes a single that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Promotional singles[edit]

Title Year Album
(featuring Wretch 32)
2016 The Dreaming Room

Music videos[edit]

Title Year Director(s)
"Green Garden" 2013 Wendy Morgan
"That's Alright"
"She" Alex Southam
(featuring Nile Rodgers)
"Phenomenal Woman"
"Show Me Love" Damian Willers

Guest appearances[edit]

List of songs recorded and released by Laura Mvula for other artists, and/or for other albums
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Little Girl Blue" 2013 None 12 Years a Slave[58]
"Sad, Sad World" Jamie Cullum Momentum (Deluxe Edition)[59]
"Human Nature" None BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge 2013[60]
"Water Under Bridges" 2014 Gregory Porter Liquid Spirit (Deluxe Edition)[61]
"See-Line Woman" Jools Holland Sirens of Song[62]
"Silence is the Way" 2016 Miles Davis and Robert Glasper Everything's Beautiful[63]
"Mellow Man" None BrOTHERHOOD (Music from the Motion Picture)[64]
"New Person, Same Old Mistakes" (Tame Impala cover) None BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge 2016[65]
"Venus" 2017 Becca Stevens Regina[66]
"Well Loved"
"Stay Awake" None Jazz Loves Disney 2[67]
"Ocean Wide, Canyon Deep" 2018 Jacob Collier with Metropole Orkest Djesse Vol. 1[68]
"Reckless" (Australian Crawl cover) 2020 None Songs For Australia[69]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organisation Category Result
2013 BRIT Awards Critics' Choice Award[12] Nominated
BBC Sound of 2013[13] Nominated[A]
Barclaycard Mercury Prize (Sing to the Moon)[70] Nominated
MOBO Awards Best Female Act[71] Won
Best R&B/Soul Act Won
Best Album (Sing to the Moon) Nominated
Urban Music Awards Artist of the Year[72] Nominated
Best Female Act Won
Best Newcomer Nominated
Q Awards Best New Act[73] Nominated
UK Music Video Awards Best Music Ad - TV or Online (Sing to the Moon) Won
Best Pop Video - UK ("She") Nominated
MVPA Awards[74] Best Choreography ("That's Alright") Nominated
2014 Brit Awards British Breakthrough Act[75] Nominated
British Female Solo Artist[75] Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding World Music Album[76] Nominated
Ivor Novello Awards Album Award[77] Nominated
BET Awards Best International Act: UK[78] Nominated
2016 MOBO Awards Best Female Act[79] Nominated
Best R&B/Soul Act Nominated
Best Album (The Dreaming Room) Nominated
Best Video (Phenomenal Woman) Nominated
UK Music Video Awards Best Pop Video - UK ("Overcome") Nominated
Hyundai Mercury Prize (The Dreaming Room)[80] Nominated
2017 Ivor Novello Awards[81] Best Song Musically & Lyrically ("Overcome") Nominated
Album Award (The Dreaming Room) Won
Jazz FM Awards Soul Artist of the Year[82] Won
A^ Fourth place

Concert tours[edit]



  1. ^ The Dreaming Room did not enter the NZ Top 40 Albums Chart, but peaked at number 5 on the NZ Heatseekers Albums chart.[54]


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  3. ^ "'Genius' talent Laura Mvula wows crowds at her New Orleans Jazz Fest debut". Archived from the original on 16 September 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
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  5. ^ "Black voices". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  6. ^ "judyshouse". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  7. ^ "lichfield choir". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  8. ^ "alvechurch community choir". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
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  17. ^ Alexis Petridis, "Laura Mvula: Sing to the Moon – review", The Guardian, 28 February 2013.
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  34. ^ "Laura Mvula: Generation Anxiety, Woman's Hour - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  35. ^ "Zoe Ball to present The Queen's Birthday Party on BBC One and BBC Radio 2". 16 April 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Laura Mvula presents Under A Pink Moon, The Livestream". Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  37. ^ "Laura Mvula on Twitter, 25 February 2021". Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  38. ^ Bray, Elisa (25 February 2021). "Laura Mvula's Under a Pink Moon marks a rejuvenated, incendiary comeback". Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  39. ^ Unerman, Sylvia (25 February 2021). "Laura Mvula – Under a Pink Moon | Live review". The Upcoming. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  40. ^ 1/f - EP by Laura Mvula, retrieved 26 February 2021
  41. ^ Levine, Nick (1 March 2021). "Pop Culture Pulse: From a Missing 'Doctor Who' Adventure to James Nesbitt's New Crime Drama | Anglophenia". BBC America. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
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  48. ^ a b Peak positions for Ireland:
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  59. ^ "Jamie Cullum - Momentum". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  60. ^ "Various Artists - BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge 2013". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  61. ^ "Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit (Deluxe Edition)". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  62. ^ "Jools Holland & His Rythmn & Blues Orchestra - Sirens of Song". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  63. ^ "Miles Davis & Robert Glasper - Everything's Beautiful". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  64. ^ "Various Artists - BrOTHERHOOD (Music from the Motion Picture)". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  65. ^ "Various Artists - BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge 2016". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  66. ^ "Becca Stevens - Regina". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  67. ^ "Various Artists - Jazz Loves Disney 2". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  68. ^ "Jacob Collier with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley - Djesse Vol. 1". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  69. ^ "Various Artists - Songs for Australia". Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  70. ^ "Mercury Prize – 2015 Shortlist – Albums of the Year". Archived from the original on 20 September 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
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  72. ^ "Urban Music Awards – UMA- The World's No.1 awards show for HipHop, R&B, Soul, Jazz, Grime and Dance music".
  73. ^ "Q Magazine – Music news & reviews, music videos, band pictures & interviewsQ Magazine".
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  82. ^ "Jazz FM Awards". Retrieved 30 March 2018.

External links[edit]