Kyla won the UK Blues Challenge on Worthing Pier seven months previously – a splendidly British setting, certainly, but Brox is light years from an end-of-the-pier act. With that well-deserved victory came the opportunity to represent the highly supportive UK Blues Federation at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, this January.
As Art Tipaldi, the editor of the influential American publication, Blues Music Magazine puts it in his rave review of Pain & Glory:-
“Every year there’s a band that packs venues at the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge, but somehow misses making the Saturday finals. This year, for me, it was the UK's Kyla Brox. Blessed with a stirring voice, smart songwriting, and a polished band of musicians. It was a breath of non-power trio music that was a rest for one's assaulted ears... word spread that this was THE band to see...”
From the highest levels of the US blues cognoscenti through to the droves of fans who applauded her appearances in Memphis, people realised they were witnessing something special. Just not the judges.
The cosmic balance was redressed, in part, on April 7th at the European Blues Challenge in the beautiful surroundings of Ponta Delgada on The Azores. There was no doubting the sheer charisma, power, technique and soul of Brox's performance on the stage of the Coliseum Micaelense, backed by her excellent compadres, Paul Farr, guitar, Mark Warburton, drums and Danny Blomeley on bass. But even seasoned Broxiteers felt there was something else going on. Kyla elucidates...
“We got to the end of our last song, Honestly Blues, and still had over a minute left on the clock. I decided I wasn’t going to stop! I hoped the band would follow and I just carried on singing. It was that moment of improvisation, flying blind, when I really felt we were playing out of our skin, purely in the music and the crowd felt it too. I dedicated the performance to blues broadcasting legend, Dave Raven, who we lost to cancer so recently. I’m pretty sure he was shining a light on me through the whole thing.”
The consensus held her a very clear winner. Her prize includes prestigious slots at several European blues festivals. Many feel, however, that Kyla's extraordinary talent transcends genre. Her superb new album, Pain & Glory, out on March 29th, is strong evidence of her command of a variety of forms, ranging from blues, through soul and rock to supreme, songwriterly ballads and prime pop.
Kyla comes from a musical Mancunian family. Her father Victor Brox is, to this day, a cult figure on the British blues scene and, back in the '60s – as singer for Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – was a favourite of both Hendrix and Robert Plant. Her mother, Annette Reis sang with Victor's band; with Alexis Korner's New Church; and also lent her vocals to Manchester House classic, Dream 17. Her husband, Danny, is her bassist; and brother, Sam Brox of Dust Junkys, produced Pain & Glory.
Kyla sang with her father's band from the age of 12 (an experience fondly documented in the joyous Bluesman's Child on the album); sang bvs for Tony Wilson at Factory Records (he dubbed her “Manchester’s answer to Aretha Franklin”); and graduated to a solo career which spans several releases and is now blossoming fully and spectacularly both on record – with the sonic cornucopia of Pain & Glory – and live, with the official European Blues Union stamp of international approval.
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