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Laura Mvula pays tribute to family in heartfelt university speech

AWARDED: Dr Laura Mvula

ACCLAIMED BRITISH singer and composer Laura Mvula has paid tribute to her family in a heartfelt acceptance speech after receiving an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University.

The music composition graduate and city native was conferred the honour marking her outstanding contribution to music before an audience of music and art graduates at the world-renowned Symphony Hall in Birmingham on Tuesday (Jul 23).

After receiving the award by Birmingham City University Vice-Chancellor Philip Plowden, and following a warm welcome by the Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry, Ivor Novello award winner and former Alumna of the Year Dr Mvula took the opportunity to share a few words of wisdom with the University’s latest graduates.

“There’s no rush, despite the pressures and pace of our modern, millennial life,” she said. “I urge you to have patience, be who you are, don’t allow yourself to be defined, give thanks and embrace the change.”

In her acceptance speech, the Sing to the Moon star referenced her musical journey to date and paid a tearful tribute to her parents and siblings “I was raised in a family of faith-led musicians – so music and truth were our everyday language. I was taught to embrace the excitement and turbulence of a creative musician’s life with the goal being to make music that was honest, innovative, from the heart.”

The musician also spoke candidly about losing out on a Brit Award (Best Female Solo Artist, 2014) to fellow pop star Ellie Goulding, as well as the stage fright she has faced in the past.

“There have been many times where I have had to find my way back to my foundation to begin again,” said Dr. Mvula. “Back to the Green Garden of Kings Heath, back to the practice room corridors, and back to this hall. It’s difficult to describe the depth of honour and thanks I feel to be conferred an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.”

Recognised as one of the brightest musical talents to emerge from the city in recent years, following a place on the Brits Critics Choice Award shortlist, Mvula achieved mainstream global success in 2013 with the release of breakout single ‘Green Garden’ and debut album Sing to the Moon that year, landing her first of two Mercury Prize nominations.

The songwriter and musician’s unique exploration of jazz, R&B, soul and pop – drawing on her classical training at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - produced a now Gold-certified work described as ‘bewitchingly beautiful’, ‘the fanfare arrival of a unique new voice’ and ‘an extraordinary sensation of light, air, and space’ by international music critics.

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