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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Order Processor

    £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Graphic Designer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

    £35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

    Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot