Multi-award winning singer-songwriter Zara McFarlane, is the UK’s Black British foremost Jazz Vocalist. Eloquent and provocative her sound is distinguished by her melding of multiple influences from jazz, reggae, folk and nu-soul.
Her latest single ‘Black Treasure’ released on the 26th May, 2020 is a fresh departure in her creative direction, uniting her with experimental producers Kwake Bass and Wu-Lu.
‘Black Treasure’ is inspired by an exploration into Zara’s Jamaican heritage, which included an extended trip to Jamaica in 2018 meeting academics, and researching the early folk rhythms unique to the island. Her new sound is the culmination of this research and weaves a subversion of the colonial legacy of slavery. The track is a “declaration, proclamation and celebration of black Britishness and womanhood”.
Her hugely anticipated 4th studio album is an exploration of the meeting points between current electronic sounds and the traditional rhythms of Jamaica and is due to be released on the 17th July 2020.
★★★★ Uncut | ★★★★ Songlines
★★★★ The Guardian | ★★★★ Evening Standard
The release of Zara's 3rd album "Arise" (produced by Moses Boyd) saw her complete an impressive string of live dates in the UK, Europe and internationally pushing the boundaries of jazz by reaching outside Jazz-centric live circuits to those such as British Summer Time (Hyde Park), Field Day and BoomTown Festivals as well as prestigious international jazz festivals and venues such as Ronnie Scotts, The Jazz Cafe, Love Supreme (UK), Rochester Jazz (US), Cully Jazz (CH) St Lucia Jazz Festivals and SXSW (US).
Zara has also made TV performances, most notably appearing on Later with Jools Holland.
"The mix of jazz and Caribbean music is refreshing and was blended seamlessly live." - Cheltenham Jazz Festival
“One of the best concerts of the festival, captured the local crowd very well … fresh and energetic” - Istanbul Jazz Festival
"Musical variety and joining of the dots from jazz to reggae/dub, funk … engaging with the audience" – Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club
Zara McFarlane first caught the attention of world renowned DJ Gilles Peterson on the release of her self- produced EP in 2010 so much so he released her debut album “Until Tomorrow” (and subsequent albums) on his label Brownswood Recordings in 2011. Her second album “If You Knew Her” (2014) saw her blossom as a lyrically conscious songwriter and set her apart as one to watch on the UK Jazz scene.
Zara’s impact is reflected in being awarded Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year Award (2018 & 2015), Session of the Year at Worldwide Awards (2018), Best Jazz Act at Urban Music Awards (2015) and Best Jazz at MOBO Awards (2014).
Zara has achieved great success with performances with a variety of highly acclaimed musicians such as Hugh Masekela, Gregory Porter, Ernest Ranglin, Shabaka Hutchings, Moses Boyd and Ezra Collective. With a voice that has been described as ‘a caressing voice of sparkling clarity,’ she is in demand as a featured vocalist internationally, collaborating with esteemed producers Louie Vega, Swindle, Floating Points, Osunlade and most recently Dennis Bovell.
Zara’s experience in songwriting, and Jazz and Popular Music vocal styles, has seen her invited to deliver masterclasses at prestigious music establishments such as RWCMD, GSMD and BIMM and within local communities. This also led her to being invited as a judge on the nationally televised 2018 BBC Young Jazz Musician Awards.
Eager to explore all avenues as a performer and vocalist, Zara has also worked in theatre completing her debut season with the Royal Shakespeare Company as the featured singer in ‘Anthony and Cleopatra,’ directed by Iqbal Khan with music written by Laura Mvula in 2017. In 2019, Zara featured in the community opera ‘Agreed’which premiered on Glyndebourne’s main stage and will return to the RSC in 2020 to perform in The Comedy Of Errors for their Winter season.
Zara McFarlane has previously been supported by PRSF Women Make Music, Momentum Fund and International Fund and The Jerwood Charitable Foundation.