11:46am Friday 24th July 2009
By Jemma Humphreys
MAKE way for the British Beyonce from Brixton. That’s right new singing sensation Mpho is being labelled as the UK’s answer to the star from Destiny’s Child.
And soon everyone will know how to say her name (pronounced Mmm-poh).
“There are worse people to be compared to when you’re starting out,” laughs the 29-year-old, whose debut single Box N Locks was released this week.
Mpho has become the first-ever artist to be allowed to sample the classic ’80s song Echo Beach, by Martha and The Muffins.
And after being signed by Parlophone — home to Coldplay, Kylie Minogue and Lily Allen — the future looks bright for the bubbly singer songwriter.
But Mpho's background is far from privileged. She was brought up under South Africa's apartheid regime and her very birth was deemed a crime because she was born to a mixed race family, illegal there until 1994.
Her mother, Mary, was jailed for being part of the anti-apartheid movement and Mpho spent her first birthday behind bars. They later fled to the UK when Mpho was four.
“I still think of Africa as home in many ways and when I went back there to see my cousins recently I felt sad,” she said.
“My cousin sent me a message on Facebook the other day saying how I was making them proud and I was doing this for all the family.
“I think because of my past it makes me even more grateful for my opportunities. It has also made me a fighter, I won’t give up.”
Mpho isn’t new to the music industry. Her CV includes stints as backing singer for Ms Dynamite and Natasha Bedingfield, as well as a mentor for a pre-fame Adele.
Now making a name for herself and standing on her own, Mpho is being lauded in industry circles as Britain's answer to Beyonce, writing powerful lyrics inspired by her experiences.
And her new single has been named as Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills’ Record Of The Week, with high hopes for its chart position.
So how is she coping with her new found fame?
“I do keep wondering what people are looking at. I think do they think they recognise me or have I just got something massive in my teeth?” she giggled.
“Earlier today I was in Tesco and a man asked me if I was a singer. Then it happened again in the street. It is a bit weird.
“The other day I was reading The Metro on the tube and suddenly there was a big interview with me.
"I thought I can’t be seen reading about myself,” she laughed.
After a summer of festivals Mpho is about to travel the country to promote her new single in a library tour.
“I love being with a small audience and doing some acapella.
"It’s lovely to reach fans in all corners of the UK, in their home towns.
"I could do that forever. Don’t get me wrong I would love to do what Beyonce has done and sell out arenas.
"Although musically I’m nothing like her, I’d love to follow her success.
"And I’d be lying if I said that is not my ultimate dream.”
l Mpho is performing in Lancashire on August 1 calling at Ingol Library, Preston at 10.45am. Also catch her at Manchester Pride Festival on August 31.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group