You may have already heard the melodious tones of Dionne Reid singing back up for songstress of the moment, Izzy Bizu (Talking To You track) on the Graham Norton Show and The One Show recently. We adore Dionne’s Soundcheck Mixtape, an eclectic fusion of acoustic Soul, Reggae and R’N’B. Her last release SMILE (Seek Meaning In Life Experiences) saw her named the BBC Radio 1 Artist Of The Week.
We caught up with the vibrant songstress to find out more about her musical influences and her style inspirations.
Re-introducing herself with a new mixtape called ‘Soundcheck’, the charismatic singer/songwriter is bringing a flavour of self-love to the soul and reggae music scene. Growing up in Peckham, Dionne found her voice at school, after performing in a production of the musical Bugsy Malone. But, it wasn’t until Dionne left college that she began to tap into her gift. Singing for Dionne, was, and still is, more about the therapeutic benefits rather than writing the perfect song.
In 2016, Dionne graced the stage at the Rototom sunsplash festival (an annual event in Europe which celebrates soul and reggae music), where she performed in front of 200,000 people. Dionne said: “It was definitely one of the best festivals I have ever been to, simply because it was so much about the music, positive vibes and love.”
Testament to her unpretentiousness, three years before Rototom, Dionne was asked to do a show in Switzerland – but she had no idea it was even going to be her show! Instead, the singer thought she had been booked to support an artist. Dionne was in for a big surprise! She said: “I was with my guitarist and box drummer, and we saw the posters of me! I told the organisers, that’s nice but it’s just me, where are the other acts?… And they said. what do you mean? It’s your show!”
Entertaining a crowd of 200 people, Dionne’s show was sold out and greatly admired. The star was left with fans refusing to leave without paying for the CDs Dionne had intended to give away for free.
At the show, Dionne shared a personal story with her audience by performing a song dedicated to her late grandmother. “I was crying and the crowd was crying too. I couldn’t believe it. I’d written the song in Peckham, in my bedroom after my grandma passed away. It reminded me that it’s important to stay connected to your truth. Performing isn’t always about being an entertainer, but it’s about being a storyteller too.”
Earlier this year, Dionne made singing appearances on prime time TV, the Graham Norton Show and The One Show. She also supported the hip hop violinist Daj Jordan at his sold out show. Dionne is passionate about where her music will take her. She said:
“I’m in the middle of planning where I’ll be next. Watch me every year, I will grow and grow!”
Most people would expect singers to get nervous on stage and Dionne is no exception! She said: “Every single time! People don’t think I get nervous! I get disgustingly nervous! I feel like it’s selfish to show I’m nervous because I don’t want my guitarist and backing vocalists, to feel unsure, so I hide it!”
The sweet soul and rich reggae sounds heard in Dionne’s music are inspired by her Jamaican cultural heritage, and love for Lauren Hill and Bob Marley. Dionne said: “Lauren Hill is just so authentic, and I love that about her – authenticity is a beautiful thing. I love that she is unapologetic about her journey. It’s not always pretty, but it’s honest and I completely respect that. I love how Bob Marley was so driven to introduce purpose in his music. I see him as a healer and when you heal with music it’s a blessing.”
Dionne is also a fan of Miss Dynamite, Missy Elliot and Wretch 32, and would love to collaborate with them all.
The singer who is also learning to play the guitar, is planning on returning to Jamaica to perform: “It’s on the cards for me to go to Jamaica, it’s been too long since I’ve been back home! I would love to perform there. It’s definitely on my radar.”
Dionne’s song writing is also inspired by children. Before going on a ‘musical adventure’ as the singer puts it, Dionne taught drama for six years, in a number of west London schools. She only left her most recent school in 2016 where her holistic approach to teaching was loved and enjoyed by her students, many of them taking to YouTube to praise her teaching, and her music of course! Dionne said:
“I’ve worked with young people a lot, and I find that a child’s main aim is to be happy. They’ll get into trouble along the way, and they’ll be told ‘don’t do this’, ‘don’t do that’, but the main goal is to be happy, otherwise when we get older, we lose the drive to be the best that we can be.”
As well as music, Dionne defines her identity through her beautiful Afrocentric fashion choices, bursting with colour and boldness, influenced by her love for mother Africa, and the feeling of being free to express cultural heritage. Dionne said: “I felt like the working environments didn’t give me the chance to express my hair in the various different hairstyles us black women can do. But since leaving, I’ve felt empowered and free to express myself in my looks.”
Living by her self-proclaimed motto, SMILE (Seek meaning in life’s experiences) Dionne is inspirational just as she is artistic and musical. She encourages those who dream of bringing their own unique sound to the music scene to: “Express your passion, and stay true to it! If you just do the same thing as everyone else, it’s repetitive and it gets boring. Get lost in yourself, show us the real you.”
Continuing her journey to bring refreshing waves of positive vibes and touching self-expression, Dionne Reid is definitely one to watch.
Discover and download Dionne’s ‘Soundcheck’ at: www.DionneReid.com