One night last October, Lianne La Havas’ life changed on a dime. The 22-year-old London-born singer, songwriter, and guitarist had been asked to appear on the influential British music show Later… with Jools Holland (a rare invitation for an unknown artist), and she made sure to take advantage of her moment. Cutting a striking figure in a white pleated skirt and side-swept poof of hair, with a radiant smile spread across her face, La Havas performed “Age”—a playful tune about a dalliance with an older man—with effortless grace and charm. When the show aired, the reaction was instantaneous and unanimous: Lianne La Havas was on her way to becoming a star. “With her electric guitar strung high, and her beautiful, smoky, vibrato-rich croon of a voice enunciating every word, she seems to be confiding in you directly, with no filter in between—a strange (and rare) mix of fragility ... and impregnable, ensnaring confidence,” raved the UK’s Sunday Times about the performance.
“I just hoped to play well and not make any mistakes,” La Havas says with characteristic modesty. “It actually felt like the first time I ever sang in front of an audience at school. I was terrified!” Her undetectable stage fright notwithstanding, the captivating performance spoke volumes about this young newcomer, who, at that point, had been signed to Warner Bros. Records and subsequently released two EP’s in the U.K. (Lost & Found and Forget). She was also busy writing and recording songs for her full-length debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?
Following La Havas’ performance on Later…, her London club residency sold out in a few hours and she was tapped by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who had also appeared on the program that night, to open his band’s North American tour in December 2011. She was nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2012—an annual poll of music critics and industry figures to find the most promising new musical talent (past winners include Adele and Jessie J).
Then Prince called and invited La Havas to visit him at his Paisley Park studio in Minneapolis, where the two spoke about music for hours and played guitar together. (“We were kind of jamming, and he fed me a line on the bass while he got on the drums,” she recalls. “We were just having a fun evening.”) Stevie Wonder turned up at her sold-out show at L.A.’s intimate Bootleg Theater (capacity: 450) and chatted with her for an hour afterward. “He was very complimentary about my songs and said it was like listening to India.Arie for the first time,” she says.)
La Havas was recently hand-selected by the legendary Robert Plant to open for him and she is also set to open for her longtime hero Erykah Badu in London—a bill that she has described as a “dream show” for her, recently telling NYLON Magazine, “I’d love to support Erykah Badu, just so I could meet her.”
Born in Bristol UK, Jamie N Commons moved to Chicago with his family when he was six and it was there that he developed a deep love for the American blues.
His first UK release was nominated for the BBC Sound Poll of 2012, and after a summer of playing festivals all over Europe, Jamie recently signed to Grammy-winning producer Alex Da Kid (Eminem, Rihanna, Imagine Dragons) and his KidinaKorner label.
Jamie N Commons' debut North American EP release Desperation Blues will be released in 2013 on KidinaKorner/Interscope Records.