Where:Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Yola's debut album Walk Through Fire, produced by Dan Auerbach, is a genre-bending release from one of the most powerful emerging British voices in music today. The singer/songwriter first came to the attention of Auerbach (The Black Keys) after a chain of people, starting with her manager, forwarded a video of her performing in Nashville that eventually found itself in Auerbach's inbox. Tastemaker media also saw promise in Yola's early recordings and live performances in Nashville - NPR, Rolling Stone Country, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and Stereogum all praised Yola, comparing her to a diverse range of artists from the Staples Singers to Dolly Parton. After watching the video, Auerbach set up a call and they connected quickly. Auerbach says "The moment I met Yola I was impressed. Her spirit fills the room, just like her voice...she has the ability to sing in a full roar or barely a whisper and that is a true gift. She made everyone in the studio an instant believer." "We knew we loved the Everlys," Yola says. "Soul, Americana, singer/songwriters. When Dan and I talked we thought we'd explore what we loved, really go there." Auerbach assembled a writing team that included Yola, longtime John Prine collaborator Pat McLaughlin, and the legendary Dan Penn ("Dark End of the Street," "Cry Like A Baby," "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,"), among others, to write together over five days in Auerbach's Nashville studio. There was a fluidity to their collaboration, with loose boundaries that gave the assembled musicians a wide canvas. Laughing, Yola recalls the writing process for the record, "Pat with his eyes closed and his guitar out, was dousing in the cosmos… you start scribbling real quick, feeding on him in his astral place." Of the free-flowing process, she adds, "Someone might be searching for something on guitar, or playing something on piano, or I might be humming, and someone else would say, 'Oh, what's that?' We came at the songs from all different places. In creativity, you want to create a bond, especially in co-writing. Part of collaborating is letting people in, getting to know them, and not getting overwhelmed. When you start to finesse the idea, you disappear into it" For a girl raised on the coast of Southwest England, where she did not fit in and life was hard, finding herself in the easy camaraderie of Dan Auerbach's studio was the realization of a childhood dream. Yola's mother's choice to raise her daughter in a small town outside of Bristol, where she could play outside, meant that Yola was "other" from the start. Between the isolation of being the only black family around, the family's poverty, and a turbulent home life, Yola needed refuge, which she found in her mother's record collection; among the albums she clung to was Aretha Franklin's Young, Gifted & Black. Inspired by those records, at age four she told her mother, "'I'm going to write songs and sing'. I don't know how I knew that, but I did. Even then."