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Layla: What's in a Name?
Layla is a wide eyed, beautiful South Londoner with an impressive vocal range. Her musical style wavers between Soul, Folk, Blues and Pop. Already established as a singer under the name Jose Vanders, she decided to change her name to Layla. As Jose Vanders, she was a piano based folk-pop artist. She toured across the UK, Europe and US beside some popular artists. She released five EPs, recorded at Abbey Road and was the face of BBC3. She even performed on Rob da Bank's show (Radio 1 Session) after he was "blown away" by her music. Jose decided, even after that, to change her name and start recording under Layla.
Layla performed her song, "Weightless" for Wonderland Magazine's Wonderland Sessions. She sold out her headlining show at London's Social and received a wonderful reception at Barn on the Farm Festival. Layla also played a sold out, headlining show at The Lexington in London.
Layla was inspired to change her stage name after reading a quote on her computer's desktop background: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." She took those words to heart and singer Jose Vanders became known as Layla. This news was announced on her Twitter account: "I am now signing out…and signing in as LAYLA." As it happens, Jose Vanders is not her real name, either. She came up with that stage name as a teenager.
Music has always been an important part of Layla's life. Growing up in South London, she began playing the piano when she was five years old. Although she wrote her first song as a child (about a family member with meningitis) it was during her teen years when she began to get heavily involved in songwriting. She graduated from University with a degree in English and after the bold move of changing her stage name from Jose Vanders to Layla, she plunged deeper into the music world chock-full of "new feelings, new life, new excitement." Her music, at times, can be quite dark, but it is beautiful, intimate and filled with gut-wrenching honesty.
Layla has had a lot of hype surrounding her music and has garnered a lot of support from fans, as well as the music industry. Radio 1's Huw Stephens and Zane Lowe (Hottest Record) have been giving her songs airtime. She is also featured in many music magazines, praising the gifted singer-songwriter. Her headlining show at The Lexington was sold out. Her breakthrough single "Smokestacks" from her EP Black Mud received support from The Line Of Best Fit, Hilly Dilly, The 405 and Neon Gold.
Layla has released three EPs in total. Her EP The New Year reached number one on "iTunes New and Noteworthy Releases". Her EP Black Mud was critically acclaimed. The single (from the EP) "Smokestacks" became wildly popular with its release and went number one on Hype Machine. It was also featured as the soundtrack to a BBC trailer for the drama Secrets.
Layla's singing is energetic, and that energy spreads to the crowd. Her skill set as a musician is impressive, sometimes playing both a piano and a tambourine at the same time (as she did during the Wonderland Sessions). Her shows aren't overly flashy; Layla tickets offer a performance in front of a plain backdrop where once in awhile colourful lighting is used. Mostly, it's just her in front of a microphone and piano with a room full of fans. It's all about her music -- the way it should be.
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