Introducing: Malaika

malaikaA bright new spark on the horizon of British soul-pop and jazz, Malaika - real name Malaika Shaw - has secured herself another deserved long listing in this year's Unsigned Music Awards, after last year's success in the UMA's Best Jazz/Blues artist category. She's enjoyed a hugely successful few months; supporting American R'n'B legend Alexander O'Neal, securing £10k worth of funding for her music career through Salute Music, and appearing on a TV news feature about the MOBOs.

Half British, half Irish, Malaika is now based in Leeds having studied at the Leeds College of Music. Her first foray into songwriting came when she found an electric guitar in the loft and got hooked from the start. Like so many of us, she had a rock and metal phase as an early teenager (vital for anyone's musical education!) before discovering jazz as part of her formal music studies. She shows off this richness of influence and her full range of talents as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with her slick sound and memorable vocal melodies. Her music, an elegant mix of guitar, horns, and synth, rings of a lighter, more laid back Amy Winehouse, one of her main influences along with the likes of Adele and Lauryn Hill.

She released two excellent new singles last year, "Stop For A Minute" and "I Don't Feel the Same", both produced with John Beck (Corinne Bailey Rae, Izzy Bizu). The latter has a rather endearing music video featuring Emmerdale actor, Ethan Kai.

Watch the music video for "I Don't Feel the Same" by Malaika below

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