Bronwen Lewis first blew us away with a haunting rendition of Fields of Gold in Eva Cassidy’s style on the BBC TV show, The Voice in 2013. She displayed her uniqueness immediately by filling the Studio with Welsh lyrics and flawless tone. Her melody took hold of the audience filling the room without so much as a whisper from the onlookers. The lack of support from the Judges, with none turning for her, fuelled shock from the audience from stage side to the sofa and she captured our hearts.
The outcome for the voice, I think, is a blessing, the shock probably gave her greater publicity which she can use to launch her career on her own two feet and terms. I think it has fortified her value as an artist not a cash cow for the BBC’s X Factor competitor. Since the show she has been working hard in harnessing her potential and has just released her first EP. She has had a few online YouTube performances which you’d only find if you were looking, but her EP should help put her talent on the map.
Her tone is on point, not the typical pop star wannabe’s which often clutter the stage on these competition style shows. Her melody and individuality is top class and it’s like bathing your ears in soft satin and folky strums. As soon as she began that solitary note on the BBC show I had shivers. I recently interviewed her about her upcoming EP.
We all remember you from The Voice 2013, and your beautiful rendition of Fields of Gold in Welsh, what do those lyrics mean to you and what inspired you create this version?
Thank you. When translating lyrics, you can’t really literally translate, as it would sound so robotic, so I went ahead and found my own meaning within the song itself. It basically talks about someone moving on from your life, and you being left with just memories. It’s a melodically touching song, and I feel it fits so well with the Welsh language. I was inspired to work on it after hearing Eva Cassidy’s incredible version – I translated it originally when I was 15 for a Welsh event.
What were you doing before you appeared on our screens?
I was actually studying Illustration at St Martins in London. I lived there for a year, and during my last few months of being there, I applied for The Voice. It was a conscious decision I’ve got to say, and I didn’t really expect to get as far as I did, because before then Music was a huge passion and influence on my life but not a career.
The voice wasn’t mean to be, how did you take it? and What are you up to now?
I took it pretty well. I can’t stand crying on talent shows really, I think it looks desperate. I left feeling incredible that I’d had such wonderful feedback and slept very well that evening. You have to take everything that happens to you as a step in a new direction and not put too much pressure on anything. That’s when you crack, and end up sobbing on national TV. I never wanted to be that kind of contestant or performer.
How were you able to record your EP – have you been signed?
Hugh Padgham and I got in touch after The Voice as he worked with Sting on the original Fields of Gold. We got talking and decided to record an EP. He very kindly produced it free of charge. We’re great friends now. And no, I’m unsigned at the moment, which can be difficult as you’re funding and organising everything yourself, but it’s so much fun, and to be honest, I love the control of creating my own fortune and luck!
What bands have been your main influences?
I would say Fleetwood Mac as they are just brilliant musicians and are lyrical geniuses. I was brought up on a lot of Carpenters and Queen, which is an odd mixture, but they are both classic bands.
Who do you aspire to be like?
I’ve always aspired to be like Alanis Morrisette, as I used to scream her songs in the back of the car at 4 years old. She was such an original artist, and didn’t need to undress to get noticed. Her lyrics are just brilliant too. In modern terms, I’d love a career like Sam Smith’s. What a brilliant life to have, writing your own music and performing at some of the biggest events in the world. He’s a very talented guy and seems very grounded.
Is your country and origin a strong influence on your music genre and sound?
Wales will always have an influence on my sound. A lot of people say I have a Celtic vibe, which I suppose it right, and I was brought up around Choirs and Welsh hymns at school. I will always write in the Welsh language too as it’s important to keep it fresh and alive, being such an old dialect. I’m very proud of my heritage and where I come from.
Have you had a musical background or upbringing?
Yes, as I mentioned I was brought up around choirs. My granddad, uncle and father are all in the same choir, and the women in my family also sing in numerous choirs. I had piano lessons from age 5 too, which helped me musically. I think you need an instrument or at least some classical training before composing your own material. I also taught myself guitar age 13. I just love music and performing – I wasn’t a very shy child apparently!
What was your pinnacle moment in starting song writing or your main inspiration to start?
There’s things all around me that inspire me. The main thing is living at home in Wales because just the countryside itself can inspire you. I sometimes listen in to conversations at cafes or on buses, and pick up on catchy lines or genuine bits of emotion. Sometimes a melody will just come to me. I don’t like writing for the sake of writing, I have to feel inspired and have a starting point, be it a phrase, chord or just a title.
What has been a defining moment for you so far?
Walking into the premiere of Pride and being greeted by the director and Bill Nighy. That was something other worldly for me. I’ve been so lucky to accomplish something like that when I was unsure of a future in Music two years ago. It’s insane!
What are your favourite songs that you’ve written? and tell us something about their meaning…
My favourite song must be I’m Only Me Because of You (link below), which is the first track on my first EP, PUREHEART and it was written for my sister as an 18th birthday gift. Being 18 is a hard time, and you’re trying to find yourself and who you want to be. We always joke around and not say heartfelt things to each other that often, so I felt this song needed to be written to validate how I feel having her in my life. I know for a fact, I wouldn’t be the same person without her in my life, hence the track title. I don’t think there are many songs out there dedicated to siblings, and the feeling of being a protective older sibling, so I hope people can connect to it on some level.
Once this EP is released what is the next step for you?
The EP release is going well so far – I’ve had orders from all over the world, from Germany to the US to Denmark to Switzerland, everyone has been so supportive. That’s the power of social media! There’s a lot in the pipeline for me at the moment. After Pride just won a BAFTA, and with the DVD release on the horizon, I’m expecting the film to be shot into the limelight again. I’m currently performing on a songwriter’s album (Tom Tyrwhitt), that is being produced by John Reynolds. I’m writing with Judie Tzuke and continuing to write with Martin Goddard, and also looking into sync work with a few contacts from The Voice. I also may have a project with S4C coming up. So, I’m very busy but that’s always a good thing. I’m just blessed to have a job that I love waking up to, and I’m determined to keep writing and performing.
Bronwen has outgrown the voice and set her own artistic path which is much more valuable journey for her. I’m glad the judge didn’t turn because as soon as she sang, we all did.
Check out Bronwen’s favourite song here: