Beverley Knight has received much critical acclaim for her latest album release "Who I Am" and rightly so. From the very first song "Get Up!" you are aware that this is not just another R & B diva...à la Beyonce Knowles or Janet Jackson.
"Watch the way that people change
Flip the script and rearrange
Hoping they can just belong
Even when it's wrong
Searching for identity
What's the next philosophy?
What's the next big thing in town?
That they can surround?"
This is a manifesto of a song. Telling you to be yourself, not to go along with any false idea of trends or fleeting fashions. The funky, frantic beat and Beverley's fantastically soulful and evocative voice match the forceful lyrics. OK, so its not high-brow poetry, but this is equally not your usual chart fodder.
I have seen Knight sing live several times on "Later with Jools Holland" and as somebody who can certainly be very critical of live performances and the ability to "move" an audience, I have to say that I am completely impressed by her attitude, her stage presence and above all her incredibly beautiful voice. She is one of those performers that you know will improvise on the melody everybody knows so well and yet still give you that feeling of cheerful recognition. I am planning to see her on her tour later in the year, so maybe I will be able to validate my initial impressions at a later date! (I have included the tour dates below to maybe encourage some of you to join the experience!
Beverley was born and raised in Wolverhampton in the Midlands and began singing at an early age in school and church gospel choirs. She suffered a great deal of racial abuse during her youth, up to and including her time studying Theology and Philosophy at Cheltenham College. It seems that this hardship early on in life has shaped her creativity and general attitude to her chosen career....
"Knight has known bad times, from her poor upbringing in Wolverhampton to enduring racist housing departments in Cheltenham. That makes her positivity real, not showbiz. She pulls it off because we feel good about her. Knight has touches of the diva about her - think Miss Ross and Janet Jackson - but she also seems like a genuine girl next door. When her band power out heavy-metal chords, her Black Country tones explode: 'What the bloody 'ell comes next?' Somehow, there may be a direct lineage between Knight and Ozzy Osbourne." (Dave Simpson, Monday May 20, 2002, The Guardian)
At the very beginnings of her music career, around 1994, she sent demo tapes to Dome Records who introduced her to the production trio "2B3". The result was her debut single "Flavour of the Old School" which charted in the Top 40. She had some international success with the single and the album "B-Funk" that followed. Her second album "Prodigal Sista", on the Parlophone Rhythm Series label includes the singles "Made it Back", "Rewind" and "Greatest Day".
The three-time MOBO award winner seems to have accrued a lot of respect from notables within the music industry, including Jamiroquai who she toured with, and duetted with both live and on his latest album.
She has also met some pretty famous people - she sang Happy Birthday to Muhammed Ali, and sang "Greatest Day" at the South African Freedom Day in the presence of Nelson Mandela.
In her own words....
"Songs are the key to it all with me....I want people to want to play the album right through from beginning to end.....Quality is appreciated by record buyers, and quality can't be rushed. If I'd just cobbled together a follow-up to Sista and rushed it out there to capitalise on the momentum, it would have been like admitting that my career goals are just short-term. Not so! I see myself as an album artist, not just a singles one - there's a whole lot more to me than that."
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda (Feb 02)
Get Up (Nov 01)
Sista Sista (Dec 99)
Greatest Day (July 99)
Made It Back '99 (March 99)
Rewind (Aug 98)
Made It Back (May 98)
Moving On Up (April 96)
Flavour Of The Old...(rmx) (October 95)
Down For The One (August 95)
Flavour Of The Old School (March 95)
Who I Am (March 02)
Prodigal Sista (re-release) (June 99)
Prodigal Sista (Aug 98)
The B-Funk (Oct 95)
UPCOMING TOUR DATES.......
Sunday 1st December 2002: Bristol Academy
Monday 2nd: Norwich UEA
Tuesday 3rd: Cambridge Corn Exchange
Thursday 5th: Glasgow Barrowland
Friday 6th: Carlisle Sands Centre
Saturday 7th: Liverpool Royal Court
Monday 9th: Manchester Academy
Wednesday 11th: Derby Assembly Rooms
Thursday 12th: Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Friday 13th: Brighton Dome
Sunday 15th: Southampton Guildhall
Monday 16th: London Hammersmith Apollo
Guardian excerpt taken from write up found on Guardian online
All other material from Beverley Knight website www.beverleyknight.com