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Mahalia

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Mahalia

11 Nov 2017 (20:00)

€10 (€10 members)
Upstairs

Fresh from releasing hernewEP,Never Change,Midlands teen Mahalia isone of2016’smost excitingnewpropositions.A storyteller at heart,Mahalia’sunassumingsongwriting manages to expressaninstinctivelyinnocentgift for melodywith a mature complexityincompositionand a natural affinity for imaginative narratives.This is subtle and delicatemusicemboldened byexultantchorusesand a vocal thatis bothsparinglysweet and refreshingly raw.There is nothing forced about Mahalia’s music and it istestament toherinnate talent thatshehas been championed byEd Sheeranand Rudimental,whileenlistingesteemed producersincludingSupaDups(Rihanna, Bruno Mars),1985(Drake, NickiMinaj)and Steve Fitzmaurice (Sam Smith) for her forthcomingEP anddebut album.As a child growing up in Leicester-where she lived until moving to Birmingham two years ago -Mahalia’s mum would drive her toand fromschool to the sounds ofEtta James,Floetry, Aaliyah and Tweet. Butit washearing Corinne Bailey Rae’sself-titleddebut albumthat immediatelycaptivatedthe then nine year-old’s creative imagination.“My mum bought me the album for Christmas.Iputit on and immediately wanted to dance and sing and jump around.Within days,I knew every word of that album by heart andslowly I discovered I had a voice of my own.”Mahalia didn’t start singing in public until three years later, whenafriendof hersdied ofcancer. “Her deathhad a huge effect onme.It was Christmas and I went out carol singing to raise money for a cancer charity.” This was to be Mahalia’sinitial stimulustoexplore singing and songwriting. “It was the first time I’d ever sungcompletely on my ownin front of peoplethat weren’t my family.I've always wanted to use myvociefor good.”A few weeks later,the 12 year-oldpicked uptheguitar andbegan playing open mic nights in the Midlands. Herbreakthrough song was the utterly arrestingLet The World See Your Light, whichcaptured the attention of platformssuch asSBTV, and AmyWadge, alittle knownwriterwholater foundsuccess withEd Sheeran onthe#1singleThinking Out Loud.Wadgetook Mahalia to seeher friendEdplayinWolverhampton, much toMahalia’sdelight. “I was such a huge fan, so I was really excitednot just to meet him but to see him perform,” she remembers. “We talked for a little bit, he wrote a really lovely tweetabout me and it all kicked off from there.”Ed invited Mahalia to join him on several dates to perform a duet ofGoldrush; with his own star in the ascendant, record labels were keen to find out moreabout the14year-old guitar playing songwriterable to
hold her own alongside Sheeran.Mahalia ended up signingwithAsylum, the same label as Ed.BothAsylumand Mahaliawere keenfor her toconcentrate on school and let her musical inclinations developover time. Over thefollowingthreeyears,Mahaliatookthings at her own pace,studyingActing andDance at college in Birmingham whiledevelopingherself as aperformer.In 2014, she supportedEdSheeran andEmeliSandéon theirrespectiveUK tours, and performed withLabrinthandRizzleKicks at the Royal Albert Hallfor the Teenage Cancer Trust.Earlier this yearMahalia went into the studio with Rudimental;the result was thetitle trackfromtheir#1album,We The Generation, co-written and sung by Mahalia. “That was huge for me, to be involved in the process and then to seethe recorddo so well.It’s been so fun to go on the journey with them; they’re become like big brothers to me.” Mahalia played withthe Hackney quartetatLoveboxover the summerandon Jools Holland (“the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done”), earning such adistinguishedlive reputation that she’s since been asked to support Leon Bridges,Kwabs, Frances and Lianne Le Havas.With her college career coming to an end, Mahalia is now ready to explore the options ofbecominga full-time singer. “It’s scary, because I’ve spent so long in my own head with my music, so now I have to put it out to people on a plate,” she grins.“But supportingartists likeRudimental andKwabsand seeing how peopleare respondingtomymusic, Ifinallyfeel like I’m ready for people to hear it.”With a debut album set for 2016, Mahaliaclosed lastyearwiththe EPNever Change,four tracks of sublime songwriting.The tantalizingMaisie, Mahalia’schildhoodnickname, isproduced bySupaDups and 1985and is aletter to her older self from her younger self. “I’d just turned 17 when I wrote it and I didn’t know if I wanted to focus on music or go back to school. I had feelings of wanting to move outand find myfreedombut alsoofwanting to be around my friends and family. The song is fromthe younger me,telling myself toslow down, don’t rush togrow up, enjoythis time while you can because life will get harder soon enough.”The stunningBorrowershasechoes of an Amy Winehouse or Adele; laden with metaphor, it’s a bittersweet reflection on the naivety of first love.The fuzzy guitar ofUpseesMahalia encouragethe inertand insecuretoriseup.‘Don’t be sleeping with your eyes open when you could be throwing doors wide open’. The title trackNever Changetakes the tempo up a notch as Mahalia tells her boy if he can’t fix up, she’s off.TheEPis stripped back and subtle, refusing to be stifled by genre, while retaining a cohesiveness that is inventive, youthful and utterlymesmerising.“I want my music to feel like a diary of my teenage years. Some of the songsI writemight seem as though they’re about romantic love, but I write about friendships, family, bullying. Not all songs are what they seem. The one thing I
want people to takefrommy music is asense of honesty,” Mahalia points out.“I always aim to be honest, real andrelatable,Mybiggest fear is for someone to listen to my music and think I’m not being truthful.”It’s what makesMahaliasuch a truly exciting prospect; likeAdele, Amy or Ed before her, Mahalia doesn’t attempt to chase hit singles orcourt thecoolcrowd.She’sareal teenager writing real music that’s relatable regardless ofage.“I’m a17 year-oldgirl from theMidlands who likes to sing and write songs,” she says simply. “I knowI’m still young and I’ve got alot to learn about life and love, but I want toevolve through my writinglike artistsbefore me havedone.Even though I’ve been singing for five years, I feel like my journey is just beginning.”

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