Soulful Emma Louise (S.E.L) is playing her debut show at Streatham’s Hideaway jazz club on Friday to launch her remake of Des’ree’s classic anthem You Gotta Be. The gig was originally planned for March 2 but had to be rescheduled when the Beast from the East snowstorm hit earlier this year.
The new single is a cover of Des’ree’s You Gotta Be, produced in collaboration with American DJ and Producer DJ Spen. Emma’s adaptation resonates with authentic old skool hip hop and 90s soul. “I’ve been doing a mix of mostly my own material and a couple of covers,” she told the Weekender.
The singer is a full-time member of Soul II Soul, one of the most innovative dance/R&B groups of the late ‘80s. Since graduating from Brunel University, where she studied music, Emma has worked with a slew of international artists, including Alicia Keys, Mica Paris, Omar, Debbie Harry, and Jocelyn Brown. She was also a headliner at this year’s Summer Soulstice festival, and has just released a new single Teach Me with Tom Glide.
“At the Hideaway I’ll be playing mostly my own material, stuff we’ve been recording and writing for the past five years and my latest two releases, including You’ve Gotta Be,” she said.
Born and bred in north London, she started playing the violin at age 6, piano at 8 and began singing solo at 11. “And I’ve been singing ever since,” she said. “I majored in vocals and piano at my degree.”
As part of Emma’s A-levels she had to write a song. “It’s easier to perform when it’s your own,” she said. “It’s much harder to perform covers. I’m really careful. You have to do it justice.”
Emma’s producer assigned her the task of finding a cover. “Spen gave me homework to look over and pick a cover and I made a list of 24 songs,” Emma said. “I noticed 22 were American songs, and I said it would be a good idea if we did a huge song that reached the US but was done by a British soul diva. Initially he suggested Sade but I said what about Des’ree? You Gotta Be is one of those songs. It’s such an anthem. People are responding well so far.”
“I needed to make sure I maintained the authenticity of Des’ree’s delivery. I didn’t want to R&B it up too much. There’s more emotion, I want to make sure it still shows what the song’s about.”
Emma is bringing her full band of seven to the Streatham jazz club. “These guys have been with me from the start -about five years,” she said. “I’ve just had a baby so this is my first performance back.”
Next up, the songstress has two music videos coming out, followed by some new remixes.
Emma Louise is performing at the Hideaway, 2 Empire Mews, Stanthorpe Road, SW16 2BF, on Friday 21 September at -11pm. Admission: £15. Phone: 020 8835 7070. www.hideawaylive.co.uk
For more information, visit: www.selsoul.com