Sylvia Powell is a singer-songwriter who refuses to be pigeonholed. Her voice invites comparisons with Sade, Morcheeba and Nina Simone, but listen closely to her songs and you’ll hear the influence of Paul Simon, Nick Drake and Carole King too.
Born in Nigeria, Sylvia grew up in a music-filled house in Bedford, and from an early age was exposed to a diverse mix of Motown, Burt Bacharach, Pink Floyd and Ella Fitzgerald. Surrounded by music, she naturally progressed to singing in local bands and writing songs.
Sylvia moved to London to study, and to advance her musical career. After completing a degree in politics, she worked days in a King’s Road boutique, whilst her nights were spent writing, singing and expanding her musical vocabulary. A real buzz grew around Sylvia’s music and after an A&R frenzy she eventually signed to Deconstruction, where she was a labelmate of Kylie Minogue.
Her first album Revue was co-written with Rob Davies, of Can’t get you out of my head fame, the hottest property in pop at the time. It attracted lavish critical praise from the likes of Music Week, who called it “a classy collection of tracks which takes in a myriad of folk, funk and R&B influences”, and Q Magazine, who described it as “a fresh, sparky debut”.
Following the demise of Deconstruction, Sylvia took some time out to take stock of her life. She traveled extensively through South America, Europe and South-East Asia, an experience she describes as one of the most important in her life.
Back in the UK and back doing what she does best, Sylvia has made a sumptuous new album, The Script. She describes The Script as “a realization of our ability to re-write our destinies”, and by writing and producing the album herself, Sylvia has not only taken control of her destiny, but emerged as a songwriter approaching the peak of her powers.
The songs are confident and mature, fresh yet timeless. They borrow from different genres including folk, jazz and soul, but maintain a recognizable stylistic and melodic continuity. Sylvia’s voice is versatile and expressive, at times vulnerable, melancholy and defiant, but always soulful.
Not only is The Script self-written and produced, remarkably it is also self-financed. But this hasn’t stopped Sylvia recruiting a stellar list of collaborators including Jhelisa Anderson, Yvonne John Lewis (Zero 7), Winston Blissett (Massive Attack) and David Ogilvy (acclaimed Alt Country artist and writer). The album was recorded at Ray Davis’ Konk studios and mixed by Phil Bodger who has previously worked with Imogen Heap, Bebel Gilberto and Will Young.
The end result of such a lengthy and at times painstaking process is a triumph. As Sylvia says: “I am a perfectionist and strongly believe that if you are going to do something then you should do it properly. I absolutely took things as far as I could when it came to quality control it did drive some of the people I worked with nuts, but I needed to know within myself that I had gotten the best from each situation.”
The meticulous approach she applied to making The Script has confirmed Sylvia Powell as a classic songwriter for contemporary times.