The Dublin diva talks to Flavour about her debut album Let the Truth Be Told. Laura Izibor is, no doubt, a diva in the making. The songstress boasts an impressive CV that makes other newcomers look lame. Not only has Laura already supported the legendary Al Green and James Brown, but in 2006 she made Irish music history by becoming the first unreleased artist ever to be nominated for a Meteor Irish Music Award (the equivalent of the Brits), and she has since been dubbed ‘The soul of Ireland’.
‘It’s a real compliment,’ says Laura on the comparisons with Alicia Keys. ‘But I don’t take it much to heart, because I know I have a long, long way to go’ she says modestly. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Laura certainly has come a long way, but the rising star knows better than to allow the world of celebrity to get to her head. ‘Back home they’d be like: ‘Just coz you’re famous, you’re not any better than me!’ laughs Laura in her thick Irish
accent. Having grown up in a tight-knit family helped the Irish-Nigerian singer grow into a beautiful and strong woman. ‘There were times when it was hard, I’m not going to lie,’ says Laura recollecting her childhood as a mixed-race girl in Dublin, ‘but I think it made me better as a human being – seeing people for who they are and not for their colour or race. There are no better eyes to see that than by someone who is a mixture of two races,’ she affirms.
Discovering her calling
Laura’s the first to admit that she doesn’t come from a musical background and it wasn’t until her mid-teens that she discovered music and eventually her calling. It took an ordinary drama lesson to unleash the former tomboy’s natural talent when she was asked to sing Mariah and Whitney’s 1998 duo, When You Believe. ‘Everyone sat quietly and then they were like – Laura that was good. I went home and told my mother, apparently I can sing.’
So that’s how a star was born. Well, not quite. It took two years for Laura to teach herself to play the piano by sneaking into the vacant music room during breaks. By the age of 15, the practice certainly paid off as the ambitious singer entered and won Ireland’s prestigious 3FM Song Contest. Aged 17 she left school and signed to Jive records, but it wasn’t until she signed a later deal with US label Atlantic records that things would really start to fall into place.
Let The Truth Be Told
Early 2009 will deliver the fruits of the four years it took for Laura to complete her self-penned debut album, Let The Truth Be Told. ‘The title felt like a strong, almost biblical statement,’ she explains. ‘I don’t co-write,’ Laura adds. ‘I’m not knocking it, but I’ve been in those situations and it’s so formulated. It was great for me to do that because I really appreciated the freedom and the natural approach.’ Although signed to a label which boasts some of the biggest chart-topping names, including T.I. and Estelle, Laura resisted the urge to feature such artists on her tracks. ‘For my first record I wanted it to be just me,’ she says. ‘It’s like when you go on a first date, you don’t want to bring your best friend.’
Each song is enriched with an authentic and organically soulful sound depicting moments in Laura’s life. ‘It’s my truth, it’s what I’ve been through,’ she explains. ‘I’m very spiritual and very in tune with what I feel and what others do.’ She also has her own sense of style, ‘I wouldn’t say I’m a trendsetter, but I don’t follow what’s in [fashion]. If the in-colour is purple, I wear red!’
The sky’s the limit
With several of her tracks already featured on hit US sitcoms including Grey’s Anatomy, The Hills and The Nanny Diaries, not to mention the gospel-tinged single Mmm on the soundtrack to Step Up To The Streets, it seems as though the sky’s the limit for this talented self-effacing star. She’s not completely ruling out future collaborations having already shared the stage with Angie Stone And The Roots, but for now it’s just Laura Izibor – a real diva doing her (own) thang!
Words by Chanel Williams