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Soul Singing Chanteuse Raquel Reno Defines Music With Her Own Notes at London Debut

Songstress Raquel Reno injected a huge shot of vitality into the UK music scene at her debut gig at QT – the new  ‘speakeasy’ in the beating heart of central London last week.

Raquel’s drive to sing and make music has taken her across the world; to China, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London and finally to Nashville where she recorded with some of the legendary singers and renowned musicians behind the famed Muscle Shoals sound.  Returning to the UK only recently the ascending star has emerged as a singer songwriter with a bewildering display of talent.

Supported by a 9 piece line up of keyboards, drums and bass, trumpet, trombone and sax and three backing singers, with so much talent on one stage, it was hard to take in what followed. Raquel kicked off with a mix of her own compositions and cleverly reworked covers rolling out a true mashup of pop melodies combining her love of soul and jazz, skilfully uniting hooks with syncopation, rhythm and blue notes into an explosive and unforgettable performance.

The chanteuse shared her life in compositions that fused lyrics aching with life’s truths. Unleashing her soaring and powerful voice she sang honestly and openly about broken relationships, past family pressures to abandon her dreams and settle down, and the perils of being a young woman, fighting to stay afloat in the choppy waters of the music industry.

Raquel is a musical storyteller with an innate vocal gift, a sensitivity for translating thoughts into song, and an alluringly wicked way of engaging with the audience that’s helped by large helpings of humour delivered by huge expressive eyes and a playful smile.

Raquel worked her magic not only on her own extraordinary compositions. Highlights included Unbreakable and the poignant Is it Over? And as if to underscore her phenomenal talent, she went to claim Dusty Springfields’ Son of  a Preacher Man and James Bay’s Hold Back the River; at this point immense energy broke from the stage and nobody in the room could sit still. As the applause followed it was clear that the audience knew that this was a star performance.

With songs drenched in the rich sounds of southern soul, you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to one of the classic divas of the 1960s. Perhaps that’s because, as a young girl in Cheltenham, Raquel devoured her parent’s music collection, discovering Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, and Dinah Washington, whose voices she aspired to emulate.

Someone unfamiliar with the artist might well ask if Raquel Reno is a soul-influenced pop singer or a pop-influenced soul singer. Whatever she is, this immensely talented artist could be just what the music industry needs right now.

Raquel’s much-awaited EP will be released in late June with music written from her time in Nashville and in London. Towards the end of the year, the rising star, who is managed by Girls Aloud’s former manager, Hillary Shaw, will be promoting and touring her first album.

 

 

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