Some vocalists sing the sweet melodies of folk in haunting melodic tones. Some singers belt the blues with gravel and rage, and some cascade fountains of smooth jazz onto their audience. Susana Silva comes under an entirely different set of performers, in that her style is totally indefinable. Why? Because when she raises the microphone stand and opens her mouth, everybody is too distracted by the sheer scale of her talent to really notice what “box” she fits into. I can think of only one catergory, which can be described as “that goose-bump, hair-standing-one-end type of singer”.
Naturally she has influences; if you listen hard you will certainly hear powerful blues, with accents of jazz and soul beats, along with the odd delightful funk lick. She is keen on Etta James, Alanis Morisette and Stevie Wonder (to name but a few), which would not surprise the listener. However, the impact of her live performance really does leave little in the mind of listener, because she communicates instead with the heart. This can only come from the fact that she exceeds the role of an entertainer – she is rather the embodiment of an astounding story.
Susana arrived into London under tough circumstances. She had nothing but a bridge for a roof. Miraculously, the gift of a two string guitar, along with her extraordinary talent, saved her life. She began to perform on the South bank, which quickly built her a fan base and provided her with the funds to invest in better and better equipment (as well as a six string guitar). She has now found her home in this city, and is rapidly becoming a recognised name in the music scene. So what do we fundamentally get from her performance?
We get the first-hand experience of a survivor that fought against the odds. We get a woman who sings from a place of authenticity and love, rather than ego. We get an abundance of breath-taking talent, with an equal measure of modesty. Most of all, beneath the love that she purposefully spreads through music, we feel inspired to follow our own dreams with the same gratitude and compassion.
words by Natasha Gilbert