Berkshire Woman spoke to Yolanda Brown,a saxophonist and a double MOBO winner from London about her latest tour, and her new album “April showers, May flowers”.
B.W. – Yolanda, I love the idea of a female saxophonist. When I looked at your biography I realised the saxophone (among others) is the only instrument you taught yourself to play?
Y.B. – Well, I sort of learned it along the way, really.
I was introduced to saxophone at the age of thirteen at school and played it for about a year. From then on I just sort of played myself and realised I wanted to make music. This is what has come out of it to date.
B.W. – How many instruments do you actually play? Is it true you play drums as well?
Y.B. – I play several different saxophones including soprano, tenor and also an electric saxophone.I have just been given a guitar as a gift; I’ve played piano since I was a child. Drums? I have not played drums since the age of 12. I have a drummer in my band now so I don’t need to do it myself (she laughs while I, unable to play any instruments at all, am flabbergasted by her instrumental repertoire!).
B.W. – How would you describe your music? It does not seem to fit into anything in particular. It sounds like jazz to start with,then we get involved with classical, reggae… It is quite a variety.
Y.B. – I grew up with a wide range of music. Dad played different music in the house and I listened to so much different stuff it all mixed up inside of me. I am based in jazz, but in concert I like to take people on a musical journey. This is what I particularly like. This is exactly what I do when I create music.
B.W. – Tell us about your new album ‘April Showers – May flowers’. The name is quite interesting.
Y.B. – ‘April showers bring May flowers’ always meant something to me. I like this idea that it is important to persevere regardless of circumstances. Everyone at some point in their life has to work through something, something which, while it might look bad at the time, will get better eventually. That is why I chose it. The faith in it is quite strong.
B.W. – Have you written all the music on the album?
Y.B. – I collaborated with a Polish artist, Oscar Stieler. We worked through the music and different melodies and ended up with the album. We co-wrote it.
B.W. – You are on tour at the moment. I believe you started in Hammersmith at the Appollo and it all ends in Scotland. But afterwards you are going to the USA?
Y.B. – Yes, I am off to Barcelona at the end of February then, when the tour ends in May, I am going to the US. It is all very exciting!
B.W. – Before I ask you to keep us posted about your next London appearance, just tell us: how is it to win the MOBO awards not once, but twice?
Y.B. – For someone like me, an independent artist without a record label behind me, I was so humbled by the fact that people actually voted for me. It is a phenomenal recognition I received from people who like my music. I am very grateful.