Think saxophones, and most of us will immediately start thinking of jazz, specifically trad jazz. No bad thing, maybe, as there are few instruments as beautiful as the saxophone, and few sounds as effortlessly beautiful as jazz, but YolanDa Brown is someone who has made the instrument truly her own, a miraculously gifted saxophonist fluent in a whole lot more than just that one genre.
As her two EPs to date, July 2007's Finding My Voice and August 2008's A Step Closer, so volubly attest, here is an artist who takes jazz and introduces it to all sorts: to soul, to R&B and gospel, to loping reggae and infectious Latin. She can sound at once emotionally raw and incontestably infectious, and she can make it sound like no one else on earth. For the past three years now, she has performed with some of the music world's most respected artists, and her name on the bill alone can sell out all sorts of venues. She has won a prestigious MOBO Award, has presented an arts show on television, and is currently putting the finishing touches to a debut album which will firmly establish her on modern music's cultural map. Right now, YolanDa Brown is a star in waiting. She won't have to wait very much longer.
I think the first time I heard music I was still in the womb, YolanDa says, laughing loudly. It was always on in the house. My father [who worked in advertising] wasn't a musician himself, but he played the hi-fi very well indeed. He introduced me to all kinds of music, and so I didn't really have a choice, I suppose. I was hooked from the youngest age.