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Kyla Brox's voice remains a stunning example of the soul singer's art: turning up the heat by degrees, lulling and charming before unleashing emotional catharsis, and blurring the distinction between pleasure and pain like the soul greats of old. Whether fronting the mighty Kyla Brox Band, or harnessing undiluted soul power in a duo with musical and life partner Danny Blomeley, Kyla Brox is without doubt the most authentic UK blues and soul singer of her generation.
Born in Lancashire in 1980, she was exposed to the passion of Afro-American music at first-hand from her blues singing father, Victor. She traces her interest in singing from age three, partly from a desire to be closer to her charismatic but distant dad. She was the late product of the marriage between Victor (Caiaphas in the original cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar) and Annette (the 'maid by the fire' in the same), and, unlike her elder sisters, gifted but non-professional singers, she didn't spend her formative years in the back of a touring van under a cloud of cannabis smoke.
Kyla joined the family business in 1992, singing with Victor onstage at Band On The Wall at the age of 12, and performing with his regular touring group shortly afterwards. The core of the Kyla Brox Band go back to this remarkable unit, nominally the Victor Brox Blues Train, but known as 'the child slavery band' for the extreme youth of the players. As well as Kyla (13, but could pass for 21), it contained bassist Danny Blomeley (13, but could pass for eight), and drummer Phil Considine (19), both Kyla Brox Band mainstays.
A two month stay at Victor's house in France at the age of 16 was a period of growth and development. Then, in 2000, she accompanied her father on an extensive tour of Australia. Blomeley had left the Blues Train to travel the world, and, to ease the blow, he promised to find Victor some dates in Australia. Kyla, just turned 20, found herself singing risqué blues songs to hard men in mining camps in remote parts of the outback. This was the trip that transformed the novice singer into a seasoned soul belle.
Back in Manchester in 2001, Kyla and Danny formed a duo, occasionally augmented by old members of the child slavery band: the Kyla Brox Band was born! They plied their trade in Victor's old stomping grounds in North West pubs and clubs, before a career-making performance at Colne Blues Festival in 2002 sealed Kyla's reputation as the first lady of the British Blues.
The line of development can be traced through Kyla's six albums. From the 2003 debut Window, where the tone is summery and romantic, to the acoustic Grey Sky Blue (2009), where hopes and longings are freighted with deeper emotions, via the blues/soul calling card Beware (2003), the band triumph Coming Home (2004) and the more introspective Gone (2007). The songs have developed too: the team of Brox/Blomeley have grown into a potent songwriting force, writing in the blues/soul idiom with an individual, nicely personal touch.
In an age of conveyer belt pop stars and emote-by-rote singers, Kyla Brox is the real deal.