British singer Lianne La Havas seeks big love in U.S.

Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:23pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lianne La Havas sings from the heart, admires people like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, and may be the latest young songstress to emerge in a steady stream of British talent invading the U.S. music scene.

She counts stars like Stevie Wonder as fans, and with her debut album "Is Your Love Big Enough?" out this month in the United States, La Havas follows the footsteps of singers such as Grammy-winning Adele, soul singer Joss Stone and the late Amy Winehouse.

"There have been some wonderful UK singers of late, which is great for me, because they just sound to me like women who really enjoy singing and I'd like to think I'm one of those women as well," La Havas told Reuters.

The 22-year-old singer from South London, who will tour North America with Grammy winner John Legend this fall, dropped out of art school four years ago to pursue her music career, collaborating with friends at London performing arts college The Brit School (graduates include Adele, Winehouse and Leona Lewis), and providing backing vocals for singer Paloma Faith.

Born to a Greek father and Jamaican mother, La Havas credited her multicultural upbringing for her eclectic musical influences, which range from Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

"I'm very influenced by the old blues and generally just singing from your heart," La Havas said. "Singers like Billie Holiday sang as if they had been through (life), so I'm really influenced by that and I wanted to inject that into the record."

La Havas' soulful sound has already caught the attention of some well-established names in the U.S. music industry.

Grammy-winning folk artist Justin Vernon of Bon Iver asked La Havas to join the band on their North American tour this year, and Motown legend Stevie Wonder came to see the singer at her Los Angeles gig in May, which left La Havas starstruck.   Continued...