One listen to Alice Russell's voice will send shivers down your spine
and leave goose bumps on your neck. Alice's lavishly soulful voice is
both timeless and up to the minute modern. Live or on record, she
always performs with her trademark self assurance and sass. Listening
to Alice, you'd naturally think she grew up on the streets of Detroit,
just around the corner from Motown's legendary recording studios, but
surprisingly enough the blue-eyed, blonde-haired lass hails from
Brighton, U.K. Her singing career began as a young girl singing in her
church choir. "Our singing was more of the traditional SATB [soprano,
alto, tenor, bass] parts you hear in the great classical halls and
Although her style is predominantly bluesy and soul lament it also encompasses everything from funk to gospel to jazz and beyond. "Growing up, I was surrounded by different types of music and you know, you just get taken by something, don't you? It hits you in the right place and you think, 'Yeah, Baby, I like that!' That gospel stuff is wicked, isn't it? And artists like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin... I was really small, playing with my Lego, taping this stuff off of the radio. I just fell in love with soul music, quite honestly. Just hearing that music hit the spot." She comes from a musical family, her father was a classical music teacher, and her sisters were classically trained. It wasn't until Alice was around nine that she began formal music lessons on the cello for a few years. But the only training she ever had with her voice was "with my ears" and just "by picking things up."
Today Alice has developed a burgeoning career as one of the hottest UK soul singers with growing audiences around the world. While comparisons have been made to other popular British vocalists like Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele, one listen and look at Alice and you can immediately tell she's in a class all by herself. She has performed alongside well respected company that includes Roy Ayres, The Roots, Lonnie Liston Smith, De La Soul, Quantic, and The Quantic Soul Orchestra to name a few.
Alice has built quite an impressive discography since bursting onto the scene. Alice's first album, Under the Munka Moon was an amalgamation of various projects (singles, remixes, collaborations) and a great introduction to new listeners. Then came My Favourite Letters, her debut studio album created by Alice with co-writer, producer, guitarist and musical soul mate Alex Cowan (a.k.a. TM Juke). The album received prestigious press accolades and proved she was an unstoppable voice to be reckoned with. Her third release, Under the Munka Moon II compiled her most recent collaborations, remixes, and cover versions including her popular interpretation of White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," for another satisfying listen.
The dynamic duo of Alice and TM Juke have been touring together for the past two years with their hand-picked band, wowing audiences in the U.K., Europe, Australia, the U.S. and in other countries. Last year, when not busy turning heads with their dynamic stage performances, Alice and "her boys" - as she affectionately refers to her group-were busy in the studio, recording her brand new album, Pot of Gold.
"Ah, my dear friend Alex. I just love working with him," Alice says of her co-writer and producer for Pot of Gold. Both had lived in Suffolk when they were growing up and would occasionally see each other at parties, but since Alice is "the granny, just a little bit older" they didn't work professionally together until both were in Brighton, where the Tru Thoughts record label is located. Alice sang on several tracks for TM Juke's first album. "So that was the beginning of our lil' friendship and creative birth," she smiles. "Our working relationship is always evolving and ever-changing as things that are alive should always be moving and growing. It's like; we'll push each other into different places. And for writing music, that can sometimes be very good."
Pot of Gold was very much a collaborative effort between them. "Alex might have had a musical idea and I'd say, 'Hold on, let's have a go with it this other way instead' and we'd change things 'round. It's like holding up a mirror to each other, sometimes saying, 'Well, what if we did that?' or 'let's look at things a different way.' It just seems to work for us."
"Music is communication," says Alice. "Even though I grew up in the countryside in England, the music helps you to understand the issues that a song expresses-be it love, prejudice, not being able to pay your bills, happiness, sorrow, racial inequality, your aspirations, dancing, mourning ... life itself. Music is an expression of human life and we are all drawn to different types. I'm moved by all the world's many genres of music. But soul music is what resonates most strongly in my heart."
In addition to her prolific musical output, her live performances continue to flourish with the ability to captivate an audience and to hold their attention throughout, expertly tugging at the heartstrings. Pot of Gold was shaped on the road and now comes full circle as Alice and her band tour worldwide to support her new album.