Eloquent and provocative singer-songwriter, Zara McFarlane, is the UK’s foremost female black Jazz Vocalist. With two critically acclaimed albums to her name, she inhabits an unusual musical landscape drawing from many influences; from the deep spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders to nu-soul, dub and reggae. The lyrically conscious songwriter has been recognised with a Best Jazz MOBO Award in 2014, an Urban Music Award for Best Jazz Act 2015 and a Jazz FM Award Vocalist of the Year award in 2015.
In 2010, Zara McFarlane issued her self-produced EP, Until Tomorrow, catching the attention of Gilles Peterson who released her more traditional debut album, Until Tomorrow, and the more lyrically conscious sophomore album, IF YOU KNEW HER, on his label Brownswood Recordings. Many of her tunes possess a power and underlying spirituality reminiscent of the ‘spiritual jazz’ movement of 70’s black America. She is uniquely engaging, deftly combining the intricacies of jazz with a deep soulfulness, melding multiple influences from reggae to pop, folk and blues. Aside from her own compositions, IF YOU KNEW HER, includes some unexpected covers including a wonderful jazz reworking of ‘Police and Thieves’, theJunior Murvin classic. Released with an accompanying video to celebrate 50 years of Jamaican independence, it became an immediate fan-favourite and radio-choice already notching up over 150,000 views on YouTube. ‘Angie La La’, the lesser known cult classic from Nora Dean features NYC‘s Leron Thomas on trumpeter and vocals.
With a voice that has been described as ‘a caressing voice of sparkling clarity,’ and ‘vocally akin to early Nina Simone and Roberta Flack’, her delivery stems from both a natural gift and years of formal study at a very high standard.
Unsurprisingly, she is much in demand as a featured vocalist. Her most recent collaboration was with House music legend Lil' Louie Vega on his Grammy Nominated album "Starring XXVIII" with their collaboration "Because We Love It." Zara has also featured with the likes of Italian DJ Nicola Conte, Gary Crosby’s Ska Orchestra Jazz Jamaica, and most recently toured with the Swiss Harmonica player Gregoire Maret. She has also been a supporting act for the likes of the godfather of South African jazz and funk, Hugh Masekela; Gregory Porter and Dianne Reeves.
Zara is currently working on her 3rd studio album to be released on Brownswood Recordings in Autumn 2017.