Pop: Brand new heavyweight

N'dea Davenport Dingwalls, London

In 1992, N'dea Davenport moved from Atlanta, Georgia to London, England, to become lead singer for The Brand New Heavies. She went on to record four albums in as many years, as well as other, high-profile collaborations, which all helped establish worldwide recognition for herself and the band along the way.

Sometime after the fourth album she decided to "...take a break... to get away from the music industry and do simple things like ride bikes and be with friends...". There was also a long-dreamt about solo project to be worked on. In 1996 N'dea Davenport went home to find her own voice.

Last week at Dingwalls, it was as if she had never been away. Bouncing on stage with characteristic effervescence, it seemed more likely that she was meeting up with old friends (which in a way, she was). She smiled the same coy smile, looked through the same heavy-lidded eyes, sang with the same unique voice.

Without any hesitation or introductions, the band broke into the first release from the album, a hip-hop driven track called "Bring It On" which gives more than a passing nod at the current US rhythm and blues scene. Briefly I had the horrific thought that N'dea may have come back as one of the "born again" brigade, suffering a few creative nips'n'tucks to sculpt a more commercial sound.

This thought was in fact brought on by the discovery that the only other producer besides herself on the album was Dallas Austin - the man responsible for "contemporising" Aretha Franklins' recent long player. Was N'dea moving towards the Mary J Blige generation? Would her new sobriquet be simply, 'N'deaD'?

Fortunately, such chimeras were soon laid to rest. The only re-invention to occur was obviously a quite radical break in style. "Bring It On" was only one example of this singers' decision to experiment. As we moved through the set, cutely cemented every two or three tracks by an old Heavies' number, it seemed that Ms Davenport had experienced something akin to a musical catharsis. "I've been working on some... different things. Experimenting with some other genres" she announced somewhat ambiguously, before breaking into a superb funked-up rendition of "Old Man", the Neil Young classic. The audience took two paces back in surprise... quickly followed by three acceptant ones forward.

Lyrically, most of the songs performed roam around that evergreen subject matter, "love", although from an interesting range of perspectives; unrequited and ingratiating on "Whatever You Want"; confused yet hopeful on the blues- infused "Save Your Love For Me"; and assertive and wary on the frankly titled "Bullshittin'". The musical zig-zagged through these songs, switching between rock, soul, blues, funk and hip-hop.

Although most of the crowd hadn't heard any of the material, N'dea's misty and heartfelt world soon won them over. Even the ubiquitous chin- strokers were caught rocking on their heels. There is a sincerity and a reassuring warmth to this young lady that puts people at ease. Whether she's wildly waving her trademark tambourine or sensuously hugging the mic, she creates an enigmatic magnetism. N'dea Davenport, it seems, has certainly found her own voice - and it's saying something you may want to hear.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

    £50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

    Java Developer - 1 year contract

    £350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

    Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

    £17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone