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The first woman to win the Best Jazz MOBO award in consecutive years, YolanDa Brown is a saxophonist with an entrepreneurial spirit.
A former student at the University of Kent’s Business School in Canterbury, YolanDa graduated with a first class degree in operations management.
It taught her a DIY ethic to making it, which led to her fronting a TV talk show on a Sky Channel and appearing in idents for American channel BET network (Black Entertainment Television.)
YolanDa decided to concentrate on her music career in January 2010, after studying for a PhD for four years at the University of Kent. By that time she had already earned her two MOBOS in 2008 and 2009.
Also a winner of Best Jazz at the Urban Music Awards in 2009, she was invited to play before the Russian president in St Petersburg.
“I played them some jazz but also introduced them to reggae – they loved it,” she said after the trip.
Born to Jamaican parents in Barking, YolanDa has also travelled to her parents’ homeland to perform for the country’s prime minister.
Seen as the emerging voice of jazz in mainstream music, she has toured with the Temptations, Courtney Pine, Diana Krall and played with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
The 30-year-old is an ambassador for both the Prince’s Trust and the Yamaha Class Band, a scheme that visits schools in underprivileged areas encouraging children to pick up an instrument.
“It’s amazing the confidence it brings them,” she said. “They really come to life.”
See her at Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre on Sunday, November 25. Tickets £16. Box office 01227 769075.
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