Kara Marni

Selected by: James Keith

Name: Kara Marni

Where She’s From: East Finchley, North London

When She Started: 2017

Genre: R&B

File Next To: Ray BLK, Jaz Karis, Liv Dawson

Sounds Like: “Soulful R&B.”

First Music That Inspired Her: “When I first heard ‘First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ by Roberta Flack, I felt something that I hadn’t felt until then; it was a sense of awe that left me feeling inspired. I was in my dad’s music room, sat on his recliner chair, and I knew from then music was going to be a major part of my life.”

Kara Marni’s foundations in music came from two converging sources. At home, her father would nurture her hunger for ‘70s soul classics, introducing her to canonised icons like Chaka Khan, Minnie Ripperton, Diana Ross, and igniting a deep passion that burns brightly to this day. “My dad played lots of great music round the house, from lots of different genres,” she tells us. “I clearly picked up on the soul records he was playing; Diana, Aretha, Minnie Ripperton—the soul greats!” Meanwhile, at school, she poured herself into English literature, finding a natural capacity for writing that she soon learned to tie back to her love of music. “At school, I always loved English and poetry, writing down my feelings—I even kept a journal,” she adds. “So, I guess, soon after that I started lacing the words with melody.”

Marni’s love for Minnie Ripperton should come as no surprise to those already familiar with her music. Six years ago, when she was still going by the name Twinnie, she uploaded her take on Ripperton’s impossibly-ranged classic “Loving You” to YouTube, a cover version that had been part of her live repertoire for at least a year by that point. Clearly not one to shy away from a challenge, the impassioned cover was an early sign of both her range and her fearlessness (for the record, it takes a range of five octaves to tackle “Loving You”).

That cover proved to be a life-changing moment for Marni. Like a lot of artists currently blowing up in 2020, the North Londoner’s early days were spent uploading stunning covers of soul and R&B classics. Her effortless mastery of Ripperton’s “whistle register” naturally caught the attention of her current management and the rest is history. Although that account has long been lost to the mists of the internet, Marni still uploads the occasional cover to her official YouTube channel (most notably a very underappreciated Lauryn Hill cover). That drive and ambition is something she’s carried with her since the beginning. She cites her biggest achievement so far as “headlining the Pussy Parlour Stage Glastonbury 2019. It’s such an iconic festival that I still can’t believe I played!” But she balances her sure-minded purpose with humility, always quick to remind herself where she came from. “There’s something really magical about looking out at an audience, having previously been part of that audience before,” she says. “Especially during the nighttime too; the atmosphere is electric.”

On the subject of humility, collaboration has been a big part of Marni’s career, yet she’s always quick to big up her collaborator and give thanks for the process than she is to boast about, say, writing with MNEK, being remixed by Zed Bias or opening for Ray BLK on her UK tour—all of which she did before even releasing her debut EP, Love Just Ain’t Enough. Now, with a sizable stack of music under her belt and the respect of the R&B and soul scenes, the next few years are looking blindingly bright for Kara Marni.

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Posted on May 27, 2020