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Peppercorn about to go Barefoot into the spotlight


Story: Jack Foley

IT'S been a long and curious journey, but Peppercorn looks as though she has finally arrived.

A unique black female artist with the aura of a goddess that challenges our perceptions, the talented British singer/songwriter was originally brought up in the Western Sahara (near Casablanca), before arriving in London to pen music which crosses cultural boundaries, by combining raw soul with gutsy folk rock and witty doses of the spoken word.

In fact, Peppercorn developed an early love of music, playing guitar from the age of 12, and writing her own songs. She took inspiration from the likes of Bob Marley and Diana Ross.

Of Marley, she states: "He taught me that a black person can come from the ghetto, and cross over internationally without watering himself down."

After leaving school, she did everything from fronting indie rock bands to singing R 'n' B and making demo after demo, eventually winding up in New York, in the late Nineties, where she came upon her own, distinctive musical style.

"I'd done a lot of changing my tune, literally, for A&R people. The I realised that musically, you can be as free as you let yourself. If you believe in yourself for long enough, someone will cotton on," she states on her website (link opposite).

Curiously, Peppercorn looked all set to break into the musical spotlight in 2001, when every national broadcaster had play-listed her, and virtually every national paper, magazine and TV station was poised to hail her as the new diva of British pop-rock.

But nothing happened. Peppercorn had apparently disappeared from trace. A few albums were hastily shipped, but Peppercorn had done a runner, due to the fact that there was no room for record company politics in her life.

Now, though, having properly completed her debut album, Barefoot, and with a single and video complete, the Peppercorn hype machine is in full swing once more, backed by a supporting tour alongside the likes of Ronan Keating and Darius (oh dear!).

The man behind the relaunch is Alki David, of Full On Entertainment, who excitedly predicts that 'it's not everyday that we come across a fantastic new artist who defies convention'.

Hence, aside from those support slots (presumably aimed at getting her a huge pop following, but she is so much more), Peppercorn will also be promoting her album with her acoustic band, from Paris - brothers Serraine and Idir Brouk.

Following the tours, Peppercorn will release her single, Hyperventilating, and embark on a tour of her own, while the video to accompany the single will be on rotation on the Box.

In what is proving to be a prolific period for the artist, Peppercorn is also composing original music for the soundtrack to 'A Different Loyalty', a passionate and gripping thriller, starring Sharon Stone and Rupert Everett.

Currently in production in Canada, Malta and London, the film is directed by Marek Kinievska and is the sequel to Another Country.

Peppercorn's long-awaited album, Barefoot, is described in the PR material as 'a cultural melting pot drawing on Peppercorn's outlook on life throughout her colourful up bringing and relationships', while the worldly wit in her songs could be compared to 'the humour of Candace Bushnell and the social-political references to the consciousness of Zadie Smith'.

It has already proved a hit with music journos (including myself - see review link, right), with The Times urging 'fans of feisty female singer/songwriters to check out Peppercorn', and Music Week stating that Barefoot 'is an accomplished debut, which is neatly followed by the catchy forthcoming single Hyperventilating'.

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