Having received acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1, NME and The Independent, London-based artist Mega has recently released her new EP Colour Your World. Combining her influence of legends such as Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone with inspiration from her Ugandan heritage, she creates beautifully shimmering melodies propelled by the rich, soaring emotion of her soulful vocals; a collection of instantly uplifting anthems oozing an exquisite heartfelt splendour.
We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of Colour Your World, we caught up with Mega to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for her choices of her five favourite albums, and listen to latest single ‘If Not My Heart’ at the bottom of this feature.
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
I remember when I first heard this album. I hadn’t heard a voice like this in the UK. I was obsessed with her voice, lyrics, melodies: everything. She reminded me of the great artists that I loved growing up. I loved how you can hear the ’70s influences shine through, but also how you can hear influences from as early as the ’50s/’60s such as artists like Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. What I love about this album and Amy Winehouse’s music is her unique and distinctive writing style, as well as her painfully vulnerable lyrics and storytelling. She had this incredible way of telling haunting stories, with an uptempo twist. She may have been heartbroken, but she used that ache, twisting the emotional scars to suit her songs and refused to allow that heartbreak to defeat her.
Alicia Keys – Songs in A Minor
I remember hearing this album for the first time. I had never experienced all the things that Alicia Keys was writing about at the time, but her music encouraged exploration of all the emotions that she was portraying through her vocals and music. It’s pretty impressive that she wrote songs such as ‘Butterflyz’ at 14. Her vocals on this album and songwriting is incredibly persuasive. Her musical arrangements are very interesting on this album – whenever I’d listen to it, it takes me on an incredible journey. I’d listen to it from beginning to end – no skipping!! It’s so innocent and sincere. The sincerity of an artist is the number one thing that draws me to the music.
Carole King – Tapestry
Although this album came out in the 70’s, the first time I heard this album was like a warm hug. I love how raw her vocals are, her careful phrasings, and how understated but powerful the songs are – connecting you directly to her as a person first and then artist. I got the feeling that this was just about the art and her expressing her heart – rather than creating a polished and perfect sound/recording (although her voice and everything on this album is perfect) My favourite songs on this album are: ‘It’s Too Late’, ‘You’ve got A Friend’ and ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’. And how can I forget ‘Natural Woman’. My goodness – her lyrical ability is such a gift.
Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata / A Promise
Miriam Makeba was an incredible South African singer who managed to crossover two genres and do it so well. Not only did she manage this, but each of them felt authentic and believable. She was also bilingual and her vocals are sensational. She made incredible American soul as well as incredible South African songs, so I have chosen two of her albums here – Pata Pata and A Promise – as they demonstrate her ability to do both so well. I’ve never really liked to define myself using genres as I find them quite restrictive, so I was delighted when I came across Miriam Makeba. I just adore her music and how distinctive it is.
Afrigo – Teri Mubi
Afrigo band are a Ugandan band that I grew up listening to, and they have an album called Teri Mubi which translates as ‘we are no liars’ or ‘there are no liars’. African music/melodies are something that I will always be inspired by; from the rhythms/melodies to instrumentation and the laidback storytelling. Drums, percussion and bass are the key instruments on African music and Afrigo band do it so, so well. They still manage to stay true to their music styles and are not really influenced by the later emergence of Afrobeat. Their music evokes feelings of joy and makes me feel so warm.
Massive thanks to Mega for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Listen to recent single ‘If Not My Heart’ below:
Colour Your World, the latest EP from Mega, is out now via Nettwerk.