Charlene’s future was predicted in the tea leaves
Charlene Soraia maybe best known for a tea advert, but she tells Sarah Marshall why she’s much more than a one-track musician.
CHARLENE Soraia first pricked the nation’s consciousness when her cover of The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go was featured on a Twinings Tea advertisement. However, like most musicians credited with overnight success, for the 21-year-old, who first picked up a guitar at five, the attention she’s since enjoyed was hard-earned.
“I started playing and writing music straight away,” says the London-born singer who taught herself to play guitar. “I just found playing so exciting because to me each note and each chord represents a different colour, feeling or experience.”
Soraia’s musical education continued when her father introduced her to David Bowie, who she credits along with King Crimson and The Beatles, as a major influence on her work.
Describing her school days as “lonely”, music has always been an escape, but when at 16 she won a scholarship to London’s BRIT School, which has several famous alumni including Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jessie J, she suddenly found herself among like-minded souls.
“The BRIT School was great. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many like-minded people who loved music as much as me.”
Soraia began performing in London pubs in her early teens and played in numerous groups during her time at BRIT from the psychedelic blues outfit Eletriq Mistress to rock band Retrospect with whom she recorded an EP.
“Playing in a band was really cool, but I’ve always been happiest as a solo artist,” she says. In 2008, Soraia returned to playing solo gigs and recorded three self-funded EPS: Daffodils and Other Idylls; Postcards in the io and One of the Sun in the space of a year. While Daffodils and Other Idylls went to the top of the folk charts, Soraia craved a larger audience and admits doubts about her music remained.
“I did everything myself – from the recording to handmaking the covers, but I didn’t mind because I was just so happy to be getting my music out there. However, it was hard when a lot of my friends were having great success with their music. There were times when I would think to myself, ‘What am I doing?’”
In 2009, Soraia’s EPS