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Dublin-raised soul singer Helena Jesele gives us the scoop on her upcoming debut album, tells us about her childhood in Ireland and explains how the nuns — yes, the nuns — partially inspired her current career.
Edwin McFee, 13 Sep 2012
Currently riding high on a wave of good reviews thanks to her just-released second single ‘Sun Is Rising,’ Manchester-born, Dublin-reared statuesque nu-soul sensation Helena Jesele has been making all the right tongues wag of late thanks to her honeyed croon and super slick sounds. Carrying on in that grand tradition of torch singers, the songstress seems destined to set fire to the charts and hearts of Europe with her as-yet-untitled debut record and she can’t wait for it to see the light of day.
“The whole album had tinges of ‘60s and ‘70s influences,” begins the performer, who now lives in London. “I wrote tracks with a fella called Paul O’Duffy who worked with Amy Winehouse and a few other characters. Half the album was written in London with myself and Paul, and the other half was written in New York with the Truth & Soul producers, who worked with Aloe Blacc. The album is like a tale of two cities, but the common thread is that we all like the same music. You can hear the UK soul vibe mixed with the American influence and then there’s me, the Irish girl, in the middle tying it all together.”
Born into a musical family, Helena has been performing since she was a child and the release of her debut record represents a long-held ambition for the singer.
“We all learnt instruments as kids. When we’d have big family get-togethers, everyone would have a party piece and mine was a Gershwin or a Cole Porter song… I was such an odd child,” she laughs as she recalls her youth. “I grew up in Ireland during the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and I’ve so many fond memories of living there. As a kid growing up in Dublin, I was always armed with my Walkman, wandering around listening to Ella Fitzgerald and all these singers my peers probably didn’t know. I found soul and jazz comforting.”
As well as a comfort, Helena also found music inspired her rebellious side too and she regularly battled with the nuns at her old boarding school in Rathnew, Co. Wicklow over her battered old Walkman.