A determination to carve out a career in music has brought singer Alyshah Jackson a long way.
Born and raised in California, she began writing songs when she was 14 years old. By the age of 17 she’d finished high school and decided she wanted to come to the UK to work with Yannik Benjamin, a Leeds-based musician and rap artist under the alias YK, who she’d befriended on the internet. Benjamin became her manager and co-writer.
“My ambition is to make music that I like, that’s cool and goes to as many people as possible,” she says.
“As soon as she turned 18 she just packed her bags and just came on her own, which is quite a bold move,” says Benjamin. “She obviously knows that she wants to do.
“She’s only been here since March but it’s been going pretty well. In terms of her progression. When she first got here she was really nervous to sing but nowadays she’s full of confidence, she just goes on stage and does it.”
This month sees the release of Alyshah’s first single, on the SmithMusix track Summertime Fling, which is coming out on AIA Records.
And, after doing a series of open mic nights at The New Conservatory and The Hop and busking on the streets of Leeds, she has also taken part in the Futuresound competition, performing a gig at The Wardrobe with the hope of winning a place on the bill at Leeds and Reading Festivals.
She also now has a backing band whose members include Azizi Cole on percussion and Travis Robinson on electric guitar.
Alyshah cites diverse musical inspirations including Lianne La Havas and Hozier. “I like to listen to a lot of people,” she says.
Earlier this month she auditioned for the next series of The Voice. Having reached the final 200 contestants, she is waiting to hear whether she will get chance to appear on television when the series moves to ITV.
My ambition is to make music that I like, that’s cool and goes to as many people as possible.
Alyshah admits to a few butterflies before the audition. “At first I was so nervous because you have to do an a capella song but when I got there they told me that I didn’t have to do it because I got scouted. I got moveed to the next round so I felt less nervous knowing that they liked me before I went in.”
Her music has also been played on BBC Introducing and BCB.
So convinced is Benjamin of Alyshah’s talent, he has put his own musical career to one side. “I’m really passionate about Alyshah’s music and her career. I kind of see somebody in a similar position that I was in when I was younger. To be honest, she’s a lot more talented than me, especially as far as age goes. She blows me away. We work as a team and if she’s successful I’m successful.
“I do feature on her songs but I don’t like to push myself as a musician. I think as a manager, you should either be one or the other.”
There’s a chance to see Alyshah live at Breeze Festival’s Under the Owls event at Kirkgate Market on Monday July 25. For details visit http://www.undertheowls.com/
For more information visit http://www.alyshah.com/