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Interview:
Michael Kiwanuka "Ready" to build on early success
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

"I'm Getting Ready" is the name of one of the singles from Michael Kiwanuka's debut album, "Home Again," as well as an EP he released last year.

And he better be ready, because plenty of good things are coming the British singer-songwriter's way.

Besides rave reviews and comparisons to Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Van Morrison, Kiwanuka won the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll. He toured with Adele last year as well, and "Home Again" was recently nominated for a prestigious Mercury Prize in the U.K.

"I'm really happy and excited about all this," says Kiwanuka, 24, who grew up in London's Muswell Hill section as the son of Ugandan refugees. "I've always wanted to be a musician and to be making music, recording music and putt it out, traveling to all these places and playing music. That's all I've ever wanted to do.

"So now I AM doing it, and people like it. It's a dream come true, I guess."

Kiwanuka credits Muswell Hill -- made famous during the 60s by the Kinks -- for inspiring his music career. Though he didn't grow up in a particularly musical household he listened to the radio and hooked up with friends who were music fans and who would loan him CDs and tapes, and he gravitated towards both soul music and folk.

"Something caught my ear about songwriting and playing acoustic guitar," Kiwanuka recalls. "The stories and the way they used words and stuff seemed to be interesting. It was more obvious or easier for people to try to push the soul route on me, but that would never be an honest representation of me.

"My intent was always to make an album, or albums, that are completely honest to me musically. The soul thing is definitely part of that. I love that. But at the same time that kind of singer-songwriter thing is so important as well. It's really important for me to mix the two, and it comes very naturally to me."

Michael Kiwanuka, Bahamas and Marcus Foster perform Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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