Ahead of supporting the legendary Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King at the Jazz Café and releasing her new single later this month, we caught up with Hackney musician Amahla to find out a little more about some of the tracks that have influenced her luxuriant, soulful sound.
Since releasing her debut EP Consider This in February, Amahla’s pertinent songwriting has rightfully been gathering great acclaim. With her distinct blend of velvety-rich vocals, lilting melodies, and pared-down R&B rhythms, Amahla astutely addresses current issues of class, race, and violence within the capital. Her lyrics offer insightful, vital reflections on the present, uncertain cultural and socio-political clime, intertwined with personal narratives and memories delivered via Amahla’s powerful voice.
Ahead of her new single coming out on 19th July and her shows at the Jazz Café supporting Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King on 22nd and 23rd July, Amahla shared some of her musical influences with us.
Adele – Melt My Heart To Stone
Adele’s debut album came out the same time I was learning to play guitar and I fell in love with her songwriting. I loved playing this track because the chords were super simple and the melody was stunning. It was a real challenge to sing and it kept me wanting to become a better vocalist. I’m told there’s a video of me singing ‘Melt My Heart To Stone’ at a school concert somewhere on the internet…interested to see that when it turns up!
Etta James – All I Could Do Was Cry
I was obsessed with Etta James as a teenager, her vocal expression and inflections were so piercing, she had so much grit in her vocals but also impeccable clarity. Etta James sings like she’s lived every word and you feel it. Etta is still a huge inspiration for me, without Etta there certainly wouldn’t be an Amahla.
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
As a child I was quite shy and didn’t dare tell anyone I wanted to be a singer. I was about 14 when I decided to sing and play House of The Rising Sun at a school assembly. That performance helped me realise that I wanted to sing on stages for the rest of my life. It still took me a while to build my confidence, but this song was the first step in getting the people around me to see that I had something worth nurturing.
Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell – You’re All I Need To Get By
In my opinion this is one of the best songs ever written. When I hear that opening refrain it just fills my heart. Each time I listen it reminds me how high the musical bar is, I’m still holding out that I’ll write a song which makes me feel the level of love and overwhelm that I do when I play this one.
Alanis Morisette – Your House
I first discovered Jagged Little Pill as a kid but have revisited Alanis more recently. When I first heard Your House I completely froze and just closed my eyes. Alanis is so exposed, as soon as she starts singing you’re transported to this state of vulnerability and wariness. I also love the fact it was hidden at the end of the record, maybe I’ll do the same one day.
Amahla supports Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King at the Jazz Café on 22nd and 23rd July, tickets available here.