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Author Topic: WaT Zoo Exhibit #8: Speech Debelle: From Homeless to Rap Star  (Read 5185 times)
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« on: 13 September 2009, 05:06:19 »

The case of Speech Debelle has left few people indifferent: Not only because she against all prognostics won the Indie Mercury Prize leaving behind favorites like "Kasabian", "Friendly Fires" or "Florence and the Machine".

But also, because her prize-winning album "Speech Therapy" is a first person account of her life as homeless in London, living between shelters and sofas of friends.

Her father abandoned the family when she was 7, and at 19 her mother chucked her out because she was flilrting with drugs. Since those days much water has gone down the river, and on SEP 8, 2009 her mother Marilyn assisted proudly at her daughters triumph.

"One day I rang at her door, and after a little fight, she would not further listen to me and closed it", remembered the singer. "So, I stayed there outside and during an hour and a half recounted everything that happened to me in the shelters. I guess in that moment she thought 'Well, I do not want to see my kid hurt; she is too intelligent'..."

Her verborrhoea now helped her to convince the jury of the Mercury, to win 23.000 Euros prize money and to share the honor of winning with bands like "Anthony and the Johnsons", "Franz Ferdinand" or "Arctic Monkeys".

She emanates a lot of self-confidence for someone doing her first steps in music business that even made her predict her win in an interview before the gala. Its for the first time since 7 years that a woman wins the Mercury again, after another big lady of hip hop, "Ms. Dynamite", who Speech calls her inspiration: "When she won, I told myself: I, too, can do it!"

This year the ladies dominated the nominees lists, but Speech does not want to enter in this gender war minefield: "The year of the women? As if we were fighting aginst the macho men? I don´t think so. But it sure is my year...!"

It is. Before the Mercury, she had just sold about 3.000 CDs, half of them after she became nominated. Only yesterday after winning the Mercury she sold a sound 4.000 albums. Her music, though, is not for the mainstream ears. She self-defines her as the "Tracy Chapman of hip hop", with a sound that refrains from the usual setups that goes with the genre, without samples or synthesizers, but with saxophone, guitar and piano, rather close to jazz.

She feels repelled by a music industry "where the people that select bands are neither black and only rarely women" and by artists that are more defined through extramusical parameters, like Lady Gaga: "She sells sex, not music".

(This article is an adaption and translation of major parts of an article by Begoña Perez in the Spanish newspaper "El Mundo", SEP 10, 2009).


Speech Debelle - Go Then Bye

Speech Debelle - The Key


"War does not determine who is right, war determines who is left...": The Rattler Way Of Life (thanks! to Solideo)... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9v3Vyr5o2Q
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