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INTERVIEWS LOUISE SETARA
A STAR IS BORN
LOUISE SETARA TALKS TO ROCKWIRED
HER DEBUT CD 'STILL WATERS'
DOING WHAT SHE WAS PUT ON THIS EARTH TO DO
INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSHThis isn't another story about a talented singer-songwriter who's finally getting her due. This is destiny. At the age of three, LOUISE SETARA (born LOUISE SMITH in Reading, England) was starting to sing as well as talk. "When I sang, I couldn't always sound out the words properly, but I was always in tune" laughs SETARA, "...I feel like this is what I was put on the earth to do." She learned from some of the great women in song such as ETTA JAMES and PATSY CLINE (at least through her mother's record collection). On her route to major label interest from BLUE NOTE/EMI, there was a succession of talent shows and meetings with the right people. Now, all of the blood, sweat and tears have finally come to mean something. LOUISE SETARA, at the age of 18 has now released her triumphant CD STILL WATERS and it's a revelation!
ROCKWIRED can't go on about this CD without mentioning that voice; a husky alto that sounds a million miles away from SETARA's 18 years. It's a voice that sounds as if the singer has seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and the darkness and eventualy, the light. Of course it helps when you've got material as good and true as on STILL WATERS, which boasts contributions from SEAL (who co-wrote two tracks), CHAKA KAHN and BRUCE HORNSBY. The material is excellent and SETARA sinks into them as if they've been with her all of her life.
And they say that there are no strong voices in music these days?
This is no poor-man's JOSS STONE or her generation's ALISON MOYET. This is a distinctive voice that's being heard for the very first time and soon, everyone's going to know about LOUISE. ROCKWIRED had the chance to speak with LOUISE as she was taking a break from a songwriting session with her musical director in New York City. Here is how it went.
You played at the HOTEL CAFE in Hollywood last month. I would've loved to have seen you perform, but things got in the way.
Oh, don't worry. There'll be other. I'll be doing this for the rest of my life.
Sounds promising. It sounds like you've been doing this all your life.
It feels like that. When I was three, I was starting to talk and sing. I couldn't sound out the words properly but I was in tune. Then, around the age of eight or nine, I had my first live gig. It kind of feels like I've been doing it forever. It feels like that was what I was put on the earth for.
Now that the CD is done, how do you feel about it?
I feel excited. It's been a long process and all my heart and all of my feelings have gone into it. Now, I'm looking forward to doing more and more gigs, promoting the CD and just singing really.
You've done some shows stateside recently. Was this your first time in the States?
My first time in the states was around this time a year ago when I got the deal with BLUE NOTE. In March (of 2006) I did my first gig in New York City, which was at THE LIVING ROOM, and from there I just started doing loads of gigs in New York, and Boston. This coming weekend, I've got a gig in Chicago.
How did you go from being a little girl who learned to sing as you learned to talk, to getting a record and deal putting the CD out?
My mom used to book me on talent shows. When I was 14, I sang in a talent show in London and my current manager was one of the judges. After I finished singing, I met up with him. He called me up from the DJ box and I went up to him, with my dad, and we exchanged numbers. And that was 5 years ago on New Years Eve. Ever since then, I just went to the studio and for a year we were just knocking out tracks. When I was 15, I signed a management deal. Last October, the album was finished and we were going to release it independently, then BLUE NOTE/EMI was interested and then we ended up doing the album with them.
After listening to the CD and hearing your voice,you sound like you have a pretty old soul, there.
Yes, a lot of people say that. It's really funny. Ever since I've been a kid I've always listened to SAM COOKE, ARETHA FRANKLIN, PATSY CLINE, and TAMMY WYNETTE. All the old singers! That's what I was brought up on. That's what I've always loved listening to. When I hear songs with kind of old lyrics, songs with alot of emotion in them, I can easily connect to them and I put all of my feeling and all of my emotions into them. Even if I'm singing about something that I don't have a lot of experience about,I try to picture how I'd feel if I was in that predicament and it just kind of comes out right.
You sound like a very good interpreter of the songs.
That's what I like to do is interpret.
You've got big names that have contributed to this CD, but you've also contributed to the songwriting itself on this CD. Was songwriting something that was always with you or did come along with gettingthe bal rolling in getting the CD out?
I was born a singer.When you keep singing, you keep taking songs and interpreting them.When you listen to these great artists, you start to get a feel for songwriting yourself. My manager always knew that it was in me.
He always said, "Keep trying to write...Keep trying to write."As I got older, I just kind of picked it up and figured it out.Songwriting for me is like a therapy session.You sit down and you talk about what you've been through
or what you're going through, or what you've done in the past or what you want to do in the futureand at the end of the session,I've come up with some songs that I can really relate to.
Whats the best advise anyone has ever given you? In life or in music.
I think the best advise that anyone has ever given me is proabably from my manager. He's a great guy. He alwasy taught me to keep my head up and to do what you believe in. The other advise he's given me is to be the best that you can be, in any thing that you do.
What do you want someone to walk away with after hearing your music?
A lot of people who come to my shows cry after they listen. When that first happened, I didn't understand it. As you do more gigs, people talk to you and they tell you why they cry, and they say that they feel very emotional when they hear me sing. I just want someone to feel uplifted. I also want them to go away feeling happy. I wanthem to feel good about themselves, 'cause that's how I feel when I'm singing, you know? Even if its in a sad way, it feels good.