CHARLOTTE may sound ordinary, but she’s far from it. A 21-year-old from Hull, England redefines the meaning of soul music with her own modern, accessible twist.
As a child, her grandparents’ music room was her secret world. At age 7, she was writing songs influenced by soul classics such as Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. By 11, she was in a choir called Voice In A Million, performing at venues like The O2 and Wembley Arena.
Music became her haven after moving halfway around the world and back at 14-years-old. Since then, she has been working between London and Los Angeles, writing for herself and a range of other projects. She has written and recorded with creatives including Toby Gad (Beyonce ‘If I Were A Boy’), Stint (Gallant ‘Weight in Gold’), Chris Braide (Sia & Lana Del Ray), Jamie Scott (Rag N Bone Man, Nial Horan), Jarami (Frank Ocean), Eg White (Adele), Grey (Maren Morris ‘The Middle,’ Hailee Steinfield ’Starving’), Jeff + Dayyon (Demi Lovato), and more!
In 2018, she began to construct her first project “Nowhere to Hide,” working with world renowned producers Toby Gad, and The Orphanage (Kehlani, Alessia Cara, Demi Lovato). The EP reflects on the painful journey of adolescence with brutal honesty and heart-rending beauty, along with battles of self-confidence and unrequited love.
Songs written with astounding depth, a voice that belongs to a much older soul, and one of the most exciting new artists this year. Rob Chadwick spoke to CHARLOTTE ahead of this weekends Leeds Festival…
What was the initial reaction when you got critics like Jamal Edwards and the Sunday Times praising your work?
Jamal has been a major supporter of me and my project since way before I started releasing music. I grew up watching SBTV and always dreamed of being asked to film a session so actually getting to do that was a big moment for me. The Sunday Times thing was awesome, especially because so many people spotted the feature and hit me up about it.
How was the transitional period from being an unknown being flung into the lime light?
I still feel like I’m very unknown so I honestly don’t feel any different to how I felt 6 months ago. I feel like I’m building a following at a steady pace and it all feels very natural and not overwhelming.
How did Hull help your career and where did you perform when you first played your music?
I don’t think that people necessarily associate Hull with opportunity, especially when it comes to music, but I found myself getting involved in so many things that led me on a really awesome journey performance-wise. I performed my first original song live in a pub called The Railway in Cottingham when I was 7 years old. I was part of a singing club that put on yearly shows in various venues around Hull. When I was 11 I joined an academy that would be performing at the O2 Arena as part of a children’s choir called Voice In A Million. I ended up performing solos at arenas all over the UK with them until I was 14. The lady that set up the choir is from Hull so she made sure an academy was set up there to give opportunities to young kids from her home city rather than just having one in London.
You were noticed by the legendary Toby Gad who has created music for John Legend, how did that come around?
We initially had a meeting that was set up my a mutual contact that my manager had. He agreed to meet with me after a lot of persuasion (he doesn’t normally work with unsigned artists) and as soon as I played a song for him at the piano in his studio he offered me a publishing deal on the spot. That was crazy, I was sat in a room next to plaques with faces of people like Beyoncé, Fergie, Alicia Keys and Selena Gomez on.
BBC Introducing also came along, how was that and how have they helped you develop as an artist?
Alan Raw has been championing me all year and I couldn’t be more grateful! I submitted my first single to the BBC Introducing uploader back in February and he made it his Track of The Week. I’ve been in and done a live session which was great. It’s so nice to have the support from home and to have my songs constantly played on the radio!
Talk to us about the EP and the ethos behind it?
My EP ‘Nowhere To Hide’ is a collection of four songs that I felt were the ones I wore my heart on my sleeve the most in. It’s all about the lyrical content and really opening up. All of the songs are about significant experiences I had/emotions I felt whilst growing up.
And I Tell Lies has a video featuring snippets of your childhood? How come
When I think of me as a child I think of someone who was content and unafraid to be themselves. That’s something I lost in my teenage years and something I’ve been working hard to get back. I Tell Lies is about putting on a front to fool others into thinking you’re okay when you’re not which younger me would never have done. So those childhood clips show a great contrast between how I am now vs. how I was then.
Somebody to Hold is arguably the glue and most important track on the EP (in our opinion) – you tell the painful story, of your childhood, what was it like listening to the finished song/EP?
That song’s my favourite of the four to perform live because it’s such an emotional one for me. I remember feeling both over the moon about how everything sounded but also apprehensive about putting the EP out because I didn’t know if people would relate to what I was saying as it all felt very unique to my life. It was such a relief when it resonated with people.
Whats your favourite track on the EP and why?
I think Somebody To Hold is my favourite to perform but I Tell Lies is my favourite to listen to, I think the production is wicked and it’s perfect to drive around to.
You have dates with Lewis Capaldi coming up, can you tell us more about that?
I do!! I’ve already played one show with him which was last month in Scarborough and it was just insane. I play the same venue with him on August 30th and I cannot wait. His fans make such a great crowd and seem to vibe with my stuff so it’s the dream support slot really! He’s also the greatest guy and I’m so lucky that he’s given me this opportunity.
You’ll also be at Leeds Festival this summer, that must be your highlight gig to date?
I still can’t believe it’s happening! The festival that I spent all of my teenage years nagging my parents to let me attend with all of my mates and now I finally get to go. I really didn’t expect to be playing any festivals at all this year so to be playing one as huge as Leeds is mind blowing. I’m bringing a full band to stage for the first time ever, it’s going to be wicked.
How important do you think festivals like Leeds are for up and coming talent?
The support given to new talent is vital! It’s amazing seeing BBC Introducing stages popping up at more and more festivals. The opportunity to be discovered at such huge events is such a blessing especially for unsigned acts. I’m buzzing to see everyone else that’s playing and discover some new stuff!
BROWSE MORE MUSIC FROM CHARLOTTE HERE: https://www.youtube.com/user/CharlotteElizabeth97/videos