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I think the anxiety had a lot to do with all those things. But it’s a thread running throughout my life.” She emailed the demos to two producers for feedback in 2012, one of whom went on to produce the album. With That’s Alright I wanted to express that I’m tired of being made to feel I lack because of what society projects on to me.” For not being white, or light-skinned? In the intervening years, the meanings of Mvula’s songs have shifted for her. The three children accompanied their father at the local Pentecostal church when he was Worship Leader.Stage fright was there from the start: after her first church solo aged 10, Mvula was so frightened by the applause that she erupted into tears.Green Garden, about Birmingham’s parks, is tinged with nostalgia for the normality of her old life. We are driven by this weird world that’s so complex, yet has no substance. That’s Alright – “I will never be what you want/Because my skin ain’t light/And my body ain’t tight” – has become a defiant anthem in the face of the celebrity circus. I stumbled across something on the internet recently that said I’d chosen the wrong dress and my figure was all wrong. By this time Mvula was at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where she was intimidated by the establishment and other students, embarrassed by her own compositions.
“And I’ve been demoted to vocals and piano, because I’m crap at violin.” In 2005, Mvula joined her aunt’s a cappella group Black Voices: emboldened by this, she formed the neo-soul outfit Judyshouse.Mvula was always more at ease when performing as a group.