Yola is a rising country-soul singer/songwriter from Bristol UK, whose recent successes include being voted ‘UK Artist of the Year’ at the AMA UK Awards, a much-hyped performance at AmericanaFest in Nashville and embarking on her first headline UK tour, described by The Times as “spectacular”. Towards the end of 2016 Yola was noted as an ‘artist to watch’ by publications ranging from The Guardian and NPR to Stereogum and No Depression. Heavily influenced from an early age by Sixties country, Stax-era soul and gospel ranging from The Staple Singers to Otis Redding, Yola was raised in a small seaside town in the South West of the England and “always wanted to be a country music artist”. Unafraid to address difficult issues in her lyrics, Yola’s real-life story – both heartbreaking and inspirational – naturally finds its way into her songs. Coming from a poor, broken home and a parent suffering from mental illness who ‘banned’ her from making any music, Yola’s experience of growing up was one of truly living below the breadline. In a working class community in denial of its status where discrimination and even violence fuelled by racism were not unusual, writing music quickly became an outlet and a means of expression, and touring a means of escape. From her late teens, Yola (born Yolanda Quartey) worked hard to earn credibility and respect throughout the industry as one of the UK’s top singers and a uniquely gifted songwriter. Realising that her soul voice was soon getting attention, Yola graduated to touring internationally straight out of school with critically acclaimed acts such as Bugz in the Attic, and later Massive Attack, most notably headlining Glastonbury Festival’s Other Stage to 60,000 people and broadcasting live on the BBC.
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