As an up-and-coming musician, Michael Kiwanuka was frequently encouraged to adopt a stage name in order to make himself “more marketable”. Back in November, he released his third successful album; KIWANUKA – eponymously named and all-caps. This would seem like a middle finger to those who made those early pseudonym suggestions but the humble Kiwanuka says that the name serves only as a reminder of the crippling self-doubt that the London-born musician has been able to overcome.
If you’ve not heard the name you may well have inadvertently listened to his music, featuring on shows like Atlanta, Empire and When They See Us. ‘Cold Little Heart’, the opening track for his award-winning sophomore album Love & Hate became the theme song for HBO’s Big Little Lies. Kiwanuka oblivious to this, thinking his track would feature as a snippet in one scene. This was until he began to see his Spotify plays exponentially increase…
His music combines folk, indie rock, and R&B, drawing favourable comparisons to Curtis Mayfield and Van Morrison. His timelessly soulful voice suits a stripped-back acoustic-style which was certainly the feel in his premier album Home Again. His later records have seen him incorporate more layers and experiment with a myriad of instruments, nevertheless, still maintaining that comforting Kiwanuka feel.
Michael Kiwanuka kicks off his UK tour this Sunday in Birmingham. He then ventures down south to play shows at Southampton’s O2 Guildhall and Bournemouth consecutively.
Tickets to see Kiwanuka’s performance next week at Southampton’s O2 Guildhall are unfortunately sold out, but you can access re-sale tickets for this or any other show of his here.