Born in 1971, Eska is a singer and songwriter who is originally from Zimbabwe but who was raised in Lewisham, South London, from a young age. With an ability to perform funk and soul music as well as folk, Eska is a performer in her own right, in addition to having a successful career as a reliable session musician. She is a multi-instrumentalist as well as being a talented vocalist. Eska can play the guitar and the violin. She is also an accomplished pianist and keyboard player. As a singer, her acclaimed virtuosity with vocals has led her to work with some famous artists in the course of her career. These include performers such as Tony Allen and David Sylvian, among many others.
Eska's career milestones
Eska Mtungwazi has gone on record as saying that she developed her musical tastes as a child from a wide range of influences, including Quincy Jones. Her violin playing led to her gaining a position in a conservatoire to study music, where she developed an interest in popular artists such as Bob Marley. After starting a career as a maths and music teacher, Mtungwazi took occasional work performing as a backing singer for a number of high-profile acts. At this time, she performed with backing bands for the likes of Grace Jones, for example.
Deciding to go her own way, Mtungwazi opted to use her first name to signify her stage persona. In 2013, she put out her debut EP; a work that was given the name Gatekeeper. Highlighting her skills as a solo artist as well as a producer, the EP was released on Earthling Recordings, the artist's own label. Enjoying a great deal of praise in the UK's music press, the five-track release was championed by the BBC Radio 6 Music DJ, Gilles Peterson. Another radio DJ who gave her airplay at this time was the renowned jazz performer, Jamie Cullum.
Having lent her vocal arrangements to other artists, Eska set about working on her own. Indeed, having already achieved credits on no less than three Mercury-nominated albums for other artists, it was hardly surprising that Eska's debut solo album would also receive a nomination. Her 2015, eponymously titled album was put forward for the Mercury Music Prize in that year. Featuring tracks such as “This Is How A Garden Grows”, which was praised by the Observer and elsewhere, the album ran for just over 35 minutes. In 2016, Eska announced that she had begun work in the studio, producing her follow-up album.
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