Mark Dutchi Lye interviews Laura Izibor

Miss Laura Izibor, or should I say ‘The Irish Princess of Soul’; on meeting her on a typically cloudy day in Dublin, I am struck by her radiance. She’s glowing with contentment and satisfaction despite the inevitable jetlag. Here is a young lady who truly loves what she does and is deservedly destined for success.

For Ireland she is a ray of hope, a shining example of true Irish grit. She is well on her way to finding her ‘pot-of-gold’ at the end of the rainbow!

As I introduce myself, we ended up conversing about my stance and background in the Irish Urban music scene, namely that I only get involved with artists and events that are not overly commercialised; I tend to go for the real people and the real artists. I explain that I worked very closely with promoting Estelle’s album in Dublin and am looking to put 110% behind her debut album ‘Let the Truth be Told’. I think it’s good for Ireland.

We discussed the mis-education in the Urban music scene in Ireland, which has gone on for probably six years, if not more. It’s at the stage where you think ‘if something doesn’t change soon, it really is lost’. Being in the industry, looking at the club scene, charts, radio makes you think ‘wow, what happened to music?’ At last we have a ray of hope in the form of the 21 year-old Miss Izibor.

I evenbrought her a gift; a classic James Brown 12” vinyl. She gushes “you know, you’re incredible; this is crazy. I was just talking about starting my own vinyl collection the other day. Oh, this is excellent! Usually when interviewers give you gifts they seem so random, like, ‘oh, this is a nice….soap!’ But this is great! Thank you.”

We spend the next while talking vinyl, how sad it is that production has waned drastically, but that’s a discussion for another day!

So, I ask the Dubliner to “tell us about Laura, where you came from and how you got here”.

“Well, firstly, I started to sing at 13, I’d never sang until then; I was a very shy kid, anything that brought attention to me, I was like, go away. It really was pot-luck; we had to do this compulsory drama class in school. We had to sing a verse of a song the next day. Miracles by Whitney Houston was out, and I didn’t even know how to sing but I calculated that if I tried to sound as much like Whitney as possible maybe that would be ok.”

I chuckle that she thought would get away with that.

“Right! So I got up in class with 30 bitchy girls looking at me, almost getting sick, thinking I cant do this …  whoa, I actually got that feeling there, wow, its like its coming back.”

As we laugh at her swift regression to secondary school nerves, it’s strange to think such a confident young lady emerged from a teenager who Laura herself admits was very, very shy.

She continues “I was in-between the nerds and cool kids at school, kinda under the radar but suddenly it was like ‘oh wow, Laura can sing’. As weeks passed, I became ‘the one’; people assumed I would be in the talent show, the school musical. I was ‘The Singer’ then and honestly just went along with it at first. I liked people’s reaction to my singing but it wasn’t until I started playing the piano and sang that the combination brought me to a whole new level.”

“When I got on stage I was surprisingly calm, and when I was singing I thought ‘this is weird’. And I had that moment that you hear people talk about. I was like ‘aaaah, I’m home, this is what I feel I have to do’. Then I went on a little mission. I didn’t want to finish school. I thought ‘I’m going to America; I want a record deal, I’m getting out of here;’ all these big dreams, I never thought it would happen.”

We talk through attending a summer School of Arts at 14, making home made demos and dealing with rejection, writing her first song, entering and winning the 2fm Song Contest at 15, which Laura admits “was the beginning of everything really, I got on the front page of The Evening Herald and 2fm started playing my winning song, I was on the radio!”

I simply couldn’t help but ask about meeting Stevie Wonder and admit my jealousy. ‘Please tell me about the experience. How did that happen?’

“He had been playing my song on the station. That itself would have been enough for me! I was so happy that he was even saying my name and introducing my song. I’m on tour with India Arie, somehow they had a slot open, India was in from 9-10 so I managed to get the 8-9 slot.

When I came in and opened the door, he started singing ‘From my Heart to Yours’. What an experience! I only know my own songs and to sing them I’d have to play the keyboard and there was no way I was asking Stevie Wonder to move from his keyboard. He was already up! ‘Sit, sit, play’. I sang ‘The Worst Is Over’ and for the whole song I was thinking ‘Stevie Wonder is there, at my shoulder’ I almost couldn’t breathe.”

I really had to congratulate Laura, her management or whoever is pointing her in the right direction with regard to artists and collaborations. I really do thank them, because Ireland needs something original, not something big. It needs something unique, something the kids coming up can look up to and think; ‘Yeah, that’s who I want to be like’.

“Honestly, for someone coming out of Ireland it really doesn’t get better than this. I mean, we’re talking about Soul coming out of Ireland. For you to climb the 1Xtra charts with ‘From My Heart To Yours’ shows the world is listening . When I actually saw your track at No.1, I thought to myself ‘they’re finally paying attention’.”

Laura’s’ stories of jamming in the studio with ‘The Greats’ will go such a long way in 15 or 20 years time. I end by asking if she has a message for the kids with big dreams; Irish or African origins.

She calmly said; “I feel I just want all kids to know that’s its ok to be you. If you have Afro hair, wear it proud but know that you’re Irish. Know that you’re still you.” 

Laura Izibor will be performing at Tripod on the 28th November, Doors 7:30pm.

Tickets €17/22.50 including booking fee from, Sound Cellar, Road Records, City Discs