Getting To Know Lynda Dawn: The Ethereal Vocalist With A Nostalgic Sound
Amalgamating soul, jazz, boogie, funk and gospel influences, Lynda Dawn makes music that effortlessly channels ‘70s and ‘80s nostalgia. A self-described music-head and an old soul, her music oozes a sense of authenticity born from passion and an intricate musical upbringing. Her EP At First Light, released back in 2019, features infectiously groovy songs like ‘Move’ alongside more R&B-led tracks like ‘Any Way You Want’, with her sensational vocals layered over rich instrumentals throughout. Having recently released remixes of her tracks ‘Fonk Street’ – reimagined by Mndsgn – and, more recently, ‘Roses’ – by XL Middleton – Dawn is gearing up for the return of live performances and working on her much-anticipated sophomore project. We sat down with the vocalist to discuss her formative years, what the future holds, and the importance of creating a sound that feels genuine.
You recently performed at the Jazz Cafe in Camden for the first time in 17 months, how was that?
It was amazing! The energy was really, really great. I think for a lot of people that was probably their first outing in a really long time and it was so special being in front of an audience again – it was a really nice vibe.
Can you describe yourself in a few words?
I would describe myself as soulful, maybe a bit sultry and a little mysterious. I’m a big music-head and I’m very passionate about good music.
Can you tell us about your musical upbringing?
I grew up in a musical household; my dad was a musician who played guitar and loved jazz, so he got me into dance music from a very young age. My mum was more into funk and boogie from the ’70s and ’80s. They both had a really extensive record collection and in the house I grew up in, there was always music playing. I used to go to church with my mother and she pushed me to join the church choir, which was amazing because I was really young and surrounded by a lot of older, more seasoned musicians. I absorbed all of the vibrations and quickly picked up on skills that have stayed with me since.
"I would describe myself as soulful, maybe a bit sultry and a little mysterious. I'm a big music-head and I'm very passionate about good music."
Would you say that musical upbringing influenced the style of music you make today?
For sure. I still don’t really know how to describe my type of music. I’ve seen quite a few publications brand it as soul, jazz, boogie or funk, but personally I feel like it’s a bit of everything. It’s kind of hard to put it in one box because I take inspiration from loads of different genres and I try to incorporate that in my sound as authentically as I can.
Can you name a few artists who shaped you?
A lot of them are more old school, so we’re looking at Patrice Rushen, Flora Purim, Fred Hammond, Chaka Khan, Brandy… I’ve always been told I’m an old soul and I just feel there’s a kind of authenticity and magic to the music from that era that I just can’t put my finger on.
"I've always been told I'm an old soul and I just feel there's a kind of authenticity and magic to the music from that era that I just can't put my finger on."
How do you collaborate on projects whilst keeping them authentic to your vision?
For my EP, the collaboration was quite organic. It was myself, Al Dobson Jr. and my brother Jason, who helped out on a lot of the keys and additional instrumentation. I feel very blessed to have a family that I can create music with; I think that’s what keeps my sound authentic. My collaborators know me, they know what I’m trying to achieve, and they help me bring my vision to life.
Have you had any struggles in your career with others trying to influence your sound?
Unfortunately, yes. I feel like it’s quite common for a lot of people in the industry, particularly for young women. Women are always dictated on their looks, what they wear, if they dance, their age… I’ve had a few naysayers who have said my music is dated and pastiche, telling me I need to get with the times. I appreciate other opinions, but it took a while for me to really accept what I wanted to do, and stay true to what feels natural to me.
Could you name a few lesser-known musicians that we should have on our radars?
I might be biased, but I really do believe Al Dobson Jr. is one of the greatest producers that the UK has to offer. There’s also a Brazilian artist called Anna Frango Elétrico who I would recommend – I love her style, it’s quite abstract. We’ve been talking about working together which would be amazing. I also recently came across an incredible guitarist called Fabiano do Nasicmento from Rio de Janeiro – I’m loving Brazilian music nowadays.
Are you working on anything just now that you can tell us about?
I just released a remix of my track ‘Roses’, reimagined by an amazing LA-based producer called XL Middleton. The other track was produced by BesKept and we just released both together as a 7″. I haven’t put out new music for a while; I really took lockdown as an opportunity to practice self-care after a really intense, busy year. I paused, meditated and focused on what was going on internally, I also took the time to develop my skills as well as a producer. I’m currently working on my sophomore project, and in the meantime I’ve got some performances lined up which I’m so excited for. It’s been a really long time coming and after the year we’ve had, I just can’t wait to connect with my audience again.