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Baker's Dozen

Licence To Sing: Afrodeutsche's Favourite Albums
Manu Ekanayake , June 27th, 2023 10:07

From a childhood spent dancing to Top Of The Pops, a complicated relationship with Michael Jackson and the tragic loss of her tape collection, Afrodeutsche takes Manu Ekanayake through the thirteen albums that changed her life


Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

I did a Radio 4 documentary about the 25th anniversary of this one recently where I got to discuss this album in great depth. This was the most informative album of my life. It gave me a language and a licence to be myself. Growing up in the West Country in the 80s we were not only a minority but we were a minority within the minority. We were the only family of colour in our town and the neighbouring city offered no help either. And suddenly this album appears from this beautiful Black woman, whose voice gives you shivers and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, but with these gentle songs that translated a lot of what was going on with me internally.

She gave me licence to sing; I started singing because of her. I didn't sing anything like her, of course, but I started singing. I used to listen to the album so much, do you remember when headphones had string? Well mine would go up the sleeve of my school jumper and I'd just lean on my arm in such a way that it looked like I was listening. Which I was, to Lauryn Hill in one ear, not whatever was going on in class. Because you weren't allowed it of course but I needed it. Like really needed it, I can't explain it any better than that. My life changed from the moment I heard that album. That was the one for me. “I want to make music, I want to play music. I want to be involved with music. Not classical music either.” I found a guitar in a charity shop and her guitar riffs on that album were the first things that I taught myself. So hands down the most important album I've ever heard in my life.