Interview With YolanDa Brown, Award-Winning Broadcaster & Saxophonist

by Thomas Harvey

6th December, 2019

Photo by Karolina Wielocha

On the evening of the Drake YolanDa award, UK’s first British producer and songwriter prize, we caught up with it’s founder YolanDa Brown also known as the award-winning broadcaster, UK’s leading female saxophonist and music educator whose tasty fusion of reggae, jazz, and soul has garnered praise around the world as she prepared to play her headline show at London’s Alexandra Palace. The Drake YolanDa Award has been created to support emerging artists across the UK on their musical journey. 

Known for a multitude of diverse achievements in the music industry. Can you give readers a bit of personal background about yourself and the work you do?
My day job is a touring musician and saxophonist, I love being on the road and love what being an artist and playing music brings. I’ve now realised it’s not just about making records and touring, I love giving back and I’m very passionate about music education and so let my TV presenting arm grow with my own show on Cbeebies. I’m also a philanthropist and have always wanted to connect people who are doing wonderful things. As we go through this journey I realised that there are still so many unsung heroes like the writers and producers and that’s what the award is about.

Guvna B

What do you think of the musical talent in the UK?
We have something to say. We have our own culture and now with seeing the likes of Stormzy being at the fore-front we can see collaboration happening throughout genres and it’s something that is so special. I’m so proud of the diverse amount of music we have in the UK but the songwriters and producers are still not always celebrated and so we started this award not so much for emerging but for celebrating the producer teams. Sometimes you would never know who they have collaborated with.

What gave you the inspiration for this competition and to showcase the people working behind the scenes of artists?
We were taking applications for the other DrakeYolanda emerging artist award and we were celebrating artists and I felt like we were missing out on the producers and songwriters of today. A lot of the producers are happy to be behind the scenes and make the song but I wanted to shine the spotlight on them. Often people think that you make music and that’s just it but today I want to show them how much goes into it in terms of how a chorus is written, where does the inspiration come from. It will be nice to show that process.

Lady Sanity

Why do you think a competition like this is so important?
We’re living in a time now where everything is so disposable and it’s great that we can churn out so much material so quickly but it takes a lot of work! During the album press run the question always comes, “when’s the next one ?” and I think this was already such labour! So much goes into it and I think showing people in other industries how much goes into it is so important. Cherish the work and the blood, sweat, and tears that go into writing a song.

What are you most looking forward to about the competition?
Even speaking to the producer teams I’ve just thought how we don’t know what’s going to happen. All the judges including Toyah Wilcox and Huwe Stephens – I just can’t wait to hear their reactions to it. What happens tonight – the teams are so versatile in their genres. It’s an amazing moment like this of creativity.

Find out more about the Drake YolanDa award.

YolanDa’s Band Jam Series 2

This week, YolanDa Brown has also announced her acclaimed children’s TV show, YolanDa’s Band Jam is returning for a second season, on CBeebies in January 2020. It will feature a series of very special guests, including the Grammy winner Imogen Heap, The Lightning Seeds, Beverly Knight and Maximo Park, among many others.

During the Summer, YolanDa hosted the CBeebies Proms at Royal Albert Hall and last month the hugely successful first season of her TV show, YolanDa’s Band Jam won the Royal Television Society NW Award in the category of ‘Best Children’s Programme (Pre-school)’.

See Yolanda Brown’s tour dates.

Previous post

Be the first and never miss an update!