Ayanna Witter-Johnson is THE definition of eclectic soul, she is a singer, songwriter, cellist who is a rare exception to the rule that classical and alternative R&B music cannot successfully coexist. This is down to her musical prowess, mesmerising vocals, uncompromising lyrics and mastery for reinterpreting songs on her cello.
The British-born musician graduated from London’s prestigious Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and New York’s Manhattan School of Music with firsts. Since releasing her EPs Truthfully and Black Panther in 2011, Ayanna has extensively toured the UK and Europe, composed for The Planets, gaining a MOBO award nomination along the way.
Ayanna says of her debut long player:‘‘Road Runner’ is my hustle as an artist. An expression of my road, my journey – physically, emotionally and historically. Each song is a memory of what has given me strength to become who I am today, and I hope that the music will ignite something in your soul and encourage you to rise up within yourself and live the life you want to live.’
Lead track on the album is ‘Nothing Less’, released on International Women’s Day drips with vibes and beats, the video sees Ayanna cut a graceful figure in her now characteristic catsuit and graphic makeup alongside her cello.
Ayanna is also an advocate for the women’s movement, having performed exclusively at Women of the World festival at the Royal Festival Hall on International Women’s Day, on a lineup alongside Annie Lennox.
With her 11-track debut, Ayanna has put together a concept album with ‘Road Runner’ that pays tribute to her Jamaican roots, with its authentic urban grittiness against the backdrop of Ayanna’s incredible musicality.
‘Road Runner’ is an album of basslines, jazz and RnB melodies, with her cello, piano and unmistakeable soulful vocals telling stories from the high street of her life. It chronicles the journey of this singer, songwriter, cellist who effortlessly runs the musical gauntlet that ranges from classical to eclectic soul. With heavy basslines and a dub delay where you might least expect it, while a solid groove and heavy bass graces the sweetest of ballads.
From Tooley Street to Turnpike Lane. From the Barbican to Brixton. From King’s Cross to Kingston. Road Runner brings a little coarseness to the cello, a rugged edge along with the mellow, whether Ayanna is classically bowing or percussively tapping her instrument of choice. “Road Runner” is a diverse mix of tones and moods, an expression of Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s incredible artistry, ready to be shared with the world.
Standout tracks: ‘Road Runner’, ‘Rise Up’ featuring Akala, the reimagining of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’, ‘Falling’, ‘Wooden Woman’, ‘Unconditionally’.
- Road Runner
- Rise Up ft Akala
- Nothing Less
- These Four Walls
- Wooden Woman
Wednesday 20th March – Peggy’s Skylight, Nottingham
Saturday 13th April – Toy and Model Museum, Brighton
Sunday 28th April – Road Runner Revealed, Omnibus Theatre, London