Funk and soul singer Lynda Dawn reached an awakening with her 2019 EP First Light. Her debut is a nostalgic throwback to 80s boogie, funk and powerhouse vocals mixed with sublime production, afrobeat's influences, drums and rhythms. However, it took a while for the London native to arrive at this authentic groove. “The Dawn in my name represents a new beginning. That’s what the whole project is about- starting again, uplifting and trying to inspire people.”
Dawn's career thus far has spanned songwriting, backing vocals and production, occasionally for some of the biggest names in the music industry. Her time in the corporate Los Angeles music industry caused her some disillusion and a three-year hiatus. "I stopped doing music for a while because it wasn’t fulfilling me.” Now Lynda Dawn is creating the music she’s always wanted to make; a truer reflection of herself and drawing upon a lifetime of influences.
'Fonk Street' on the EP is an infectious homage to the funk she grew up with in her musically inclined household. “My mum raised me on boogie, 80s funk and soul and my dad raised me on doo-wop and jazz.” She masterly bridges these genres, creating a musical niche that at first made it difficult to find producers to collaborate. “It took a while to craft my sound but in the end the record came about completely organically, with just me, my younger brother and producer Al Dobson Jr.”
'Arise' and 'Any Way You Want' embodies Dawns new beginning, ephemeral and triumphant jazz tracks that draw upon gospel. Growing up in a north London Pentecostal church, Dawn sang in the church choir, following in the footsteps of powerhouse vocalists such as Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. “I was quite shy and introverted as a kid. The choir really broadened and opened up my musical horizons, helping me harmonize and sing.”
Dawn cites Karen Clark Sheard, Yolanda Adams, Roy Ayers and Fred Hammond as chorusing her childhood. 'Theme for Cha-Cha' is an ode to her father, showcasing celestial vocals, masterly instrumentals and conjuring up images of stained-glass fragility. “I don’t really have a set method with music, it depends on my mood and on the beat. I start with the melody and fit lyrics to that.”
She is nostalgic of a time when artists had a certain enigma around them. “Some of my favourite artists weren't under the limelight. We didn’t know what they had for breakfast or saw any selfies of them and their partners in bed. There was always an air of mystique about them.”
Preferring to have a little mystery around her, you won’t see Lynda Dawn churning out content on Instagram. Having been exposed to the pressures women face in the music industry, she is refusing to sacrifice any of her authenticity for mainstream success. “Men don’t have these same pressures, to be a certain age or look a certain way, to be overly-sexualised. It’s confining for women and isn’t what I'm inspired by. I want to make music with more of an uplifting message.”
A couple of tour dates this month will see her play the Jazz Café in Camden, a return to her old north London stomping ground. These will be her first solo performances; “it’s all quite new to me; I feel like a baby again.”
What's next for Lynda Dawn? “In 2020, I want to keep making music that reflects me. There will definitely be another album and record and I want to perform more and connect with more people.”
What: Soul, funk and jazz
Get 3 Songs: ‘Fonk Street’, ‘Arise’, ‘Any Way You Want’
Fact: “I think I’m a little bit psychic. My dreams have often foreshadowed things. If they’re really vivid or have meaning in them I tell my friends just in case they come true.”
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Words: Daisy Lester
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