Music: Sounds from Bradford, England

Have you ever heard about Bradford in the UK? Maybe you haven’t but you probably heard some music from Bradford, even if you don’t realize that yet. And there’s more to explore!

If you are a classical music lover, you must have heard about Frederick Delius, a composer born in Bradford who was famous in the beginning of the last century. If you like the music from the 1970s, you probably know these songs: ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ by Bradfordian band Smokie and ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ – Elton John’s duet with Kiki Dee. Well, she was born in Bradford as Pauline Matthews and became the first British woman to sign the contract with American Motown Records.

What about New Model Army, a rock band from the 1980s? Have you heard about them? You guessed it – the band was formed in Bradford. In the same decade another Bradfordian Tim Both joined a band called James and he later ended up playing the role of the villain Victor Zsasz in ‘Batman Begins’ in 2005. And maybe you know the hit ‘The Promise’ by the girl band called Girls Aloud? One of the girls, Kimberley Walsh, was born in Bradford. Finally, Zayn Malik from the best selling boy band of all time One Direction is a Bradfordian too.

When I lived in Bradford, I really enjoyed live performances by many local bands and musicians but I especially appreciated two of them: pianist Imani Hekima and a duo called La La & the Boo Ya. Seemingly they couldn’t be farther away from each other. Imani describes his music as ‘soulful and lyrically conscious’ and La La and the Boo Ya represents jungle music. But for me both of them send beautiful messages in their songs.

Already in his debut single ‘The Robots’ Rebellion’ from 2009 Imani Hakima sings: ‘The human kind is waking up / This time no one can put a stop.’ In ‘Stepping To The Light’ we hear: ‘Now I look within / Cos I’m stepping to the light/ Stepping to the now.’ In another song ‘Never Judge A Book By the Cover’ he reminds us about this obvious truth. Finally, his newest song released last year on Spotify ‘Cometh the Hour’ comforts us by saying: ‘In times of crisis, opportunities arise / There’s a window, take a look and recognise / It may take some time, won’t happen overnight / It may be chaos but harmony’s in sight. / Cometh the hour, cometh the man / Cometh the woman, to further the plan.’

La La & the Boo Ya was created by a brother and a sister playing jungle music. Their song ‘Stay’ is a very moving ode to the city: ‘Stay / You’re running away / (…) You have choices / And the choice is: / Stay. (…) Could be you have a part to play’ and it concludes with the simple statement: ‘It’s a beautiful place.’ And Bradford truly has a beautiful soul.

Imani Hekima and La La & the Boo Ya

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