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 of Zara’s Jamaican heritage, which included an extended trip 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 acclaimed 3rd album “Arise,” co-produced by rising-star drummer Moses Boyd, is a product of their exploration of the meeting points between British Jazz sounds and traditional rhythms of Jamaica.
★★★★ Uncut | ★★★★ Songlines | ★★★★ The Guardian | ★★★★ Evening Standard
Her “Arise Tour 2018” has seen Zara 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).
"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
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.
Eager to explore all avenues as a performer and vocalist, this year Zara completed 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. Specialising in songwriting, Jazz and Popular Music vocal styles, Zara is often invited to deliver masterclasses at prestigious music courses such as RWCMD, GSMD and BIMM and within local communities and shall be a judge on the BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 Awards.
Currently working on her heavily anticipated 4th album, Zara will also be a featured singer in the brand new community opera ‘Agreed’ to be premiered on Glyndebourne’s main stage in March 2019.
Zara McFarlane has been supported by PRSF Women Make Music, Momentum Fund and International Fund and The Jerwood Charitable Foundation.