Phenomenal Woman

Album: The Dreaming Room (2016)


  • The last song written by Laura Mvula for The Dreaming Room, "Phenomenal Woman" was inspired by a 1995 poem of the same name by American civil rights activist Maya Angelou. "I wrote this anthem to raise up our women," said Mvula. "We are the givers of life, we are the children bearers, the nurturers, the heroines, we are extraordinary in our ordinariness."
  • The song features Mvula's use of the keytar, in place of her trademark piano. The instrument allows her to move with the music in live shows. "Initially it was a joke idea, I was just messing about jamming with it, but it made so much sense," she told The BBC. "I'm not stuck behind anything in a static way anymore, I can move and I can see people. If I want to turn and feel the band I can do that. We have such a good time now."
  • Maya Angelou's famous poem of triumphant self-belief lifted Mvula from the shackles of striving to be a woman who was acceptable to everyone. "I had some kind of epiphany as soon as I heard that slow voice, that depth" she recalled to The Independent. "I was about to go into the shower and I was stood looking at myself in the mirror. It was a different kind of looking in the mirror. It was 'This is She, outwards, inwardly'. Staring at myself and seeing everyone else as I look at myself."

    Inspired, she wrote this song as a musical protest against the stress and pressures of the modern world. "All of us, women and men, are dealing with so many things thrust upon us," Mvula said. "I wonder how we survive, let alone be fruitful human beings."
  • Laura Mvula told The Telegraph the song is also a tribute to her grandmother. "She came over from St Kitts when my mother was four and she raised 10 children," the singer said. "She's such a vibrant woman – serious and joyful at the same time. I see so much courage and creativity in the way she has lived."


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