Sit down chat with jazz artist Adura June conversing about music, food, culture and education.
Draped in a free-flowing crème and turquoise dress, which does little to conceal her petite frame, Adura June sits gently and slightly timid as we prepare to commence.
Adjusting to a more comfortable position, Adura – as she’s preferred to be called – catches a glimpse of my phone’s screensaver (a picture of my favourite Nigerian artist, Nneka), which initiates our first topic of discussion, music.
Recollecting her first memory of music, the 22-year-old jazz singer and law student recalls been relatively young, as her ears were exposed to jazz icons, Julie London and Blossom Dearie.
“I can’t really remember my age at the time”, says the Nigerian vocalist, her thoughts rewinding back to Abuja, the country’s capital where she grew up.
Music, as they say, is a universal language. Coming from a country rich with Afrobeat musicians such as, Fela Kuti, Lágbájá, Tony Allen and more, is it of some surprise that Adura first fell in love with jazz rather than her native land’s own genre?
“Music works within people in many different ways. Genres have various style and with that comes different methods of appealing to a person,” she says, filled with love and passion.
“I’m just influenced by good music, it’s as simples as that,” she continues, offering an earnest smile.
Approaching the final stage of her law degree at University of Wolverhampton, the fairy-like singer’s hobbies barely connect with her academic choice. Speaking so tenderly, it is amazing to see the transition from her usual character to her music persona.
“The changeover from my normal self to when I’m with the mic is something I still cannot fathom,” she says, showing me a clip of an old live performance of hers.
As we move onto the next topic, Adura June – a stage name coined from her middle (and favourite) name and her birth month – reveals her adoration for our current location; Boulangerie Bon Matin, a delicate French café in the North side of London. Admitting to holding a soft spot in her heart for food and all things delicatessen, Adura, (meaning prayer in her native tribe, Yoruba), tells of how food and cooking became her second love, after music of course.
“Sunday afternoons after church,” she says with reflex, as though it’s an automated response. Reaching for her café au lait, the Lagos-born singer-songwriter leans back in her seat as she indulges me with a tale dating back to her childhood.
Artistry comes from many aspects of life, from cultural influences to family members. Seldom do you see an artist inspired solely by his or her craft. Inspiration comes in variation. Some are inspired by their environment others by previous artists. However, only a few are inspired by what we see as a daily necessity, food.
“Food and music correlate and blend perfectly from my perspective,” says Adura. “I savour food the same way I enjoy music, from both listening and singing aspect.”
Influenced not only by food, a number of music icons and legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Notorious B.I.G play a key role in her music style.
Balancing university and its difficulties with music can only be a tough task. On the verge of being done with undergraduate life; the impact university and all its baggage might have had on her music can only be imagined.
“The severity of uni has made it at times hard for me to concentrate on music, which has limited my ability to do more with my craft,” she says. “However, it has given me a broader idea on the legal issues surrounding music,” she continues, showing a slight frown of disappointment.
As graduation approaches, Adura has that and only that in her sights. “I can’t wait for graduation so I can celebrate with my family,” she says, with an illuminating smile. “I also want to keep growing myself and my career and just being the student of life.”