Laura Mvula

Laura Mvula: 'The music industry is sexist and racist'

Laura Mvula has hit out at music industry sexism and racism in an interview with Radio Times. The singer and MOBO Award-winner opened up about the difficulties many black artists face when trying to break into the business, as well as the counterproductive tendency for women in the industry to be labelled a “diva” if you say anything with assertiveness or authority.

“I work with males, whether in the boardroom, in the studio to produce an album, or in the stage production – it seems to be the way that it is,” she explains in this week’s Radio Times Glastonbury special. “Sometimes I feel isolated and misunderstood: being a woman in this industry, if you say anything with assertiveness or authority, you are often quickly labelled a diva”.

Mvula's comments echo that of Nicki Minaj, who made similar claims during her 2013 My Time Is Now documentary special. 

Commenting on Florence Welch becoming the first female headliner at Glastonbury this century in 2015, Mvula says, “I think that’s sad and surprising and it highlights we have so far to go, so much to do,”  attributing the lack of equality to the public having "become brainwashed into just experiencing what mainstream media thrusts into our faces."

“These are the Donald Trump times of music.”

Mvula also touched on colorism and racism in the music industry, saying that prejudices still exist, but they are ‘hidden’.

“It’s like the Loch Ness Monster, man. Everyone’s like, ‘Is it there?’ It’s there, but it is, [like], so subliminal and so hidden, there is a lot of prejudice and it doesn't come down to one thing. It all moulds together to create one ugly monster that just says, ‘Nah, not interested’.”

And discussing awards, Mvula says that of the prizes she's missed out on – including being pipped to the post by Ellie Goulding at the 2014 Brits – losing the Mercury Award to James Blake "hurt the most".
"What is difficult is that there is no cause and effect. It isn't that black and white, but there are all kinds of issues and prejudices. I don't think my chocolate skin helps in this context."

Mvula’s new album, The Dreaming Room, is due to be released June 17.