Opening Act: Hussain Jiffry
Inspired by artists such as Etta James, Billy Holiday and Dusty Springfield, LOLA’s music offers a distinctive and fresh take on Soul, Blues and Jazz. Living in London, at 8 years old she remembers listening to a cassette of Aretha Franklin. ‘The raw emotion she expressed in her voice transported me and from that point all I wanted to do was sing.’ At school LOLA learnt every genre she could, sang in concerts, competitions and choirs, received Grade 8 Distinction in Singing Exams and A* in all Music Exams.
But lessons and grades weren’t enough. ‘Watching my Mum write and perform taught me that music is about putting your entire heart and soul into every note and nuance, painting a personal and unique world through lyrics and honing your craft over and over again. This intimidated me; I felt I had so far to go before I would be good enough to be an artist in my own right.’
At 17 LOLA auditioned to The Royal Academy of Music and gained a place in a four year course in Opera. ‘It all felt wrong, all I wanted to do was write and sing Soul and Jazz. Instead of going to class I would sit at the piano at home and write about feeling lost and late nights.’ But the late nights and singing developed a nodule that wrecked havoc on her voice. ‘Not being able to sing taught me how much it meant to me and so I quit Opera, healed the nodule and dedicated myself to writing and singing music that came from my heart.'
LOLA set up a bedroom studio and created everyday. ‘I realised that music permitted me to turn my troubles into something beautiful. My fear, heartache, sorrow and hope bled out in the melodies and lyrics.’ Many of her songs are about love and loss. ‘I was going though an intense and destructive relationship, one minute we’d be on top of the world and the next we’d be shouting at the back of a bus; I was hooked.’
Jamming with Jazz musicians in makeshift living room rehearsal spaces LOLA began to gig her material. ‘I love the high energy within performance and so I began to write up-tempo swampy Blues and Funky Soul songs, that convey the power we have to be sassy, sensual and strong.’
A gig as a backing singer came up in LA and a three-week stint turned into not going home. She has since worked with producers such as Dan Wilson, John Shanks and Eg White. Writing over 130 songs in her lifetime, LOLA dug deep in the hope to find a sound that is as classic as it is catchy.
‘To me music exists to make people feel. It draws out our innermost emotions and takes us to a mystical place; it heals, it invigorates, it connects. That’s why it’s all I want to do.’