Michael KiwanukaView In iTunes
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With his acoustic blues-folk sound and timeless soulful voice, singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has been favorably compared to Curtis Mayfield, Terry Callier, and Van Morrison. He was born in Muswell Hill, London in 1987, to Ugandan parents who had fled Idi Amin's regime in the '70s. He initially developed a love of rock music; in particular, Radiohead and Nirvana, and he performed in various covers bands while briefly studying jazz at the Royal Academy of Music and pop music at Westminster University. An outtake of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" inspired him to take a more stripped-back approach. After performing as a session musician for former Bill Withers drummer James Gadson and Tinie Tempah producer Labrinth, he played on the capitol's live circuit, where he was discovered by the Bees' Paul Butler, who invited him to record material at his Isle of Wight studio. After signing to Mumford & Sons' Communion label in 2011, he released two EPs, Tell Me a Tale and I'm Getting Ready, before supporting Adele on her U.K. tour. He finished third behind Emeli Sandé and Maverick Sabre on the Brits Critics Choice short list. A year later, he followed in the footsteps of Jessie J, Florence + the Machine, and Ellie Goulding when he was announced the winner of the prestigious BBC Sound of 2012 poll, and shortly thereafter released his debut single and album, both titled Home Again. After an extensive tour, Kiwanuka returned to the studio in 2015. His sophomore album, Love & Hate, saw release the following year via Polydor. ~ Jon O'Brien