Jazz sensation embarks on emotional tour

14:48 16 February 2012

YolanDa Brown

YolanDa Brown


»The thing that strikes you most about YolanDa Brown is the way she’s so unassuming for a woman who has two MOBO awards, has played in front of presidents and worked as a TV presenter – all before the age of 30.

The saxophonist and singer is modest about her achievements, but warm, earthy and bubbly after achieving so much despite being a latecomer to jazz.

She only took up the saxophone aged 13, although previously played the piano, violin and drums before the age of seven.

Her interest in the saxophone started because she “wanted to play a wind instrument” and says she did not look back because it felt so natural. She sees the saxophone as an extension of herself.

“The sax is my voice. I can communicate my life with music,” she says.

YolanDa’s talent was spotted a few years later at an African-Caribbean society event in London where a representative of the High Commission decided to fly her to Jamaica to play for the president when she was 18.


Playing sax remained a hobby and she decided to study business at university.

It was not until she was doing a PhD, aged 24, that she started working full-time as a musician. The following year in 2008 she won her first MOBO for Best Jazz and the rest is history.

Yolanda is touring to promote her debut album, April Showers, May Flowers.

She said: “The album is about going through hard times and growing. If you believe you can do it, you can get to the good times.

“I do find when I’m playing, it’s easy to be emotional. Some audience members say ‘I really did feel what you were saying’.”

When not performing, she’s a music ambassador for the Mayor of London’s Fund for Young Musicians and Yamaha, teaching children to play instruments.

She added: “Music is important in a child’s education.

“We are so caught up in league tables, we forget about the emotive, creative side.”

n YolanDa Brown is at Hammersmith Apollo on February 17. To book tickets, call 08448 444748.

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