I came across this interesting interview with Hilary Mwelwa of Hill St. Soul fame on Essence.com. In the piece she speaks quite candidly about the obstacles she encounters as a Black British female soul singer in the UK. Read below for full interview.
Hil St. Soul: A British Invasion
By Clay Cane
ESSENCE.COM: How does your new album "Black Rose" differ from your first two albums?
HILARY MWELWA: I think there is a natural progression. Primarily, I feel like the subject matters I’ve touched upon with this project are a lot more diverse. I’ve evolved as a singer and songwriter and my vocals have definitely improved because of years of singing.
MWELWA: Not necessarily. Whatever project I'm working on, I first try to create music that is truthful to me and keep with the Hil St. Soul vibe. Foremost, it is really about the integrity of the songs and myself as an artist.
ESSENCE.COM: The title track addresses women feeling comfortable and happy in their own skin. Do you ever feel pressure to conform?
ESSENCE.COM: Does the resurgence of White female soul singers in England, such as Amy Winehouse and Adele, have a positive or negative effect on a Black female soul artist from the U.K.?
MWELWA: I think it has a negative effect. At the end of the day, if you’re talented at what you do then you’re entitled to have that kind of stage or shine, but what I’m noticing is that people like the Amy Winehouses and the Adeles get a bigger push from labels. There are not that many Black female artists actually getting signed in the U.K. It really is about the Adeles, Duffys and Amys. It does have a negative impact, and you question it. A Black female artist singing soul music versus a White artist singing soul or whatever you want to call it, we don’t seem to get the same kind of love that they do. Not to say that I don’t feel Amy Winehouse deserves to have that spotlight on her, but everybody should get the same opportunity and I don’t think [the U.K.’s Black female] artists do.
ESSENCE.COM: How different do you think your career would be if you were an American R&B artist?
ESSENCE.COM: Is there a musical formula that a British artist needs to adopt to appeal to American audiences?
ESSENCE.COM: Many songs on the new album, such as “Broken Again,” are about the trials of relationships. Are you currently in a relationship now?
ESSENCE.COM: A friend of mine is going through a breakup now and she told me, “I can’t be happy alone.” What would be your advice to someone who feels that way?
“Black Rose” (Shanachie) is in stores now. For more information, visit MySpace.com/hilstsoul.