Jazz Souled Out Sessions ( in association with Shades of Soul Ltd )

Gizelle Smith

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

The 'Golden Girl of Funk'. This is the title this multi-talented songstress quickly earned after she stormed from obscurity almost 8 years ago.  Born to a Seychellois mother and an American father who was a guitarist and band leader for legendary Motown group ‘The Four Tops’, Gizelle was raised in Manchester, UK with a multicultural upbringing steeped in soulful music from the very beginning… Pursuing a career in music was the natural path for her and after studying for an MA in film composition, she played trumpet and sang in several Big Bands, before moving to London to work as a composer and vocal coach for the Young Person's Theatre Company.

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Soon after, she burst into mainstream consciousness as the front-woman of the Hamburg-based funk outfit ‘The Mighty Mocambos’ on their breakthrough collaborative album ‘This Is Gizelle Smith & The Mighty Mocambos’. Before long, her obvious talents began to attract serious attention in the funk & soul circles, with regular championing from Craig Charles (BBC Radio 6 MUSIC). She excelled in the role of front-woman, perfectly offset by The Mocambo brand of classic funk and soul centred around catchy dancefloor tunes. They proved to be an underground hit – charting and receiving specialist radio airplay across Europe while moving over 10,000 units of the album and the single ‘Working Woman’ being streamed in excess of 3 million times on Spotify, all despite only being backed by a small indie label. After the first 7” release, she was picked up and remixed by Grammy nominee producer Kenny Dope for a release on his Kay Dee imprint. 

A serious touring schedule then followed which saw her entertaining audiences across the world - the highlight being a main stage performance at Montreal Jazz Festival to over fifty thousand people in 2011. 

2016 saw the release of her hotly-anticipated, debut solo album 'Ruthless Day'. Not simply recreating the classic style of the debut, the new record saw her develop a more expansive and progressive sound that exposes her vocal talents and arranging skills far more than before. This time around recruiting a talented crew of jazz-schooled musicians and incorporating a more adventurous approach to instrumentation that sees a wide array of strings, brass and synths added into the mix of the ‘traditional soul band’ set up. 

The result is a raw, yet sophisticated, energetic and harmonically rich, funk record with exciting arrangements that at times remind of Rotary Connection and Cymande in their prime. Yet it’s also undeniably modern and relevant at a time when new the new breed of progressive funk pioneers like Childish Gambino, Thundercat and Mr Jukes are all commanding significant media attention. 

Gizelle Smith is a MUST-SEE force to be reckoned with…