Once upon a time there was a top studio vocalist, who sang on hits for Universal Records, Ministry Of Sound and many more. Then Malaya Blue saw the light and now she has embraced the world of jazz and blues – as her stunning debut album, Bourbon Street, proves.
The former session singer turns up the glamour and says viva la diva!
How long have you been singing?
As a child, I went to the local church. The kids would all get together and sing. I fell in love with music but I was always shy. When I grew up, my friends were really into music. I became a session singer, who sang what I was told. A couple of years ago, I was asked to do a guest spot on Mick Simpson’s blues album, Cruel World. When I did the track [Find Another You], I knew almost straight away it was what I’ve always wanted to sing. I love blues and jazz, but it was never the work I got. It’s been a long time coming and then I was asked if I would record my own album.
Do you get quite nervous before shows?
I don’t get nervous in a ‘I don’t want to do it’ way. I get nervous in a ‘let’s get on with it’ way. I went to see Mojo Preachers last week, because a lot of the musicians in that band are also in mine. When they were setting up, I was itching to get up there and run through a few numbers, but I had to be a good girl, sit down and wait my turn.
How good are you at remembering lyrics?
I’m okay once I get past the first line. That’s my nemesis, even though I’ve written the song. If I have the first line, I have the whole song.
Which artists have helped shape you as a live performer?
I have to say the big stage divas, such as Beyoncé and Shirley Bassey. Sarah Vaughan could hold the stage with just a microphone. The presence she had was captivating. There were no bells and whistles.
Your music is real ‘late at night’ jazz and blues. Are you into the vintage scene?
We’re currently talking about image and I’m liking the vintage idea. It’s a great look. I had never thought about that aspect of live performance. This time, it’s about me and I want to create something that’s part of my image. The red dress I wear on my album cover is already becoming synonymous with Malaya Blue. I think that flash of red indicates there’s a bit of fire on the inside.