Whenever I’ve played Charlotte Turnbull’s music to friends, they’ve all had one thing to say: she has an incredible voice.
No surprises then to find that in 2015 the 19-year-old from Surrey was selected to appear on The Voice. At the time, one of the judges, Will.i.am, praised the nascent singer’s performance for containing some “moments of awesomeness” as well as some where she was seen to stumble.
In the ensuing year she’s barely faltered, uploading a series of intimate covers of top artists including Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Kehlani and Rita Ora to her YouTube channel. Now she’s working hard to promote the release of her EP, Making My Way, and gigging throughout the summer with support from her label.
Where many might try to deconstruct Charlotte and rebuild her in their own image, urban music platform, The Live Factory, simply want to enable her to make and perform music in her own way, allowing for success to come organically.
Indeed, their faith in her potential is vast: “I applied for a job at The Live Factory and not long after got an email from the Femi, the founder, asking me to come down for a chat. It wasn’t until I got there that Femi told me they were interested in being my mentors and helping guide me towards the next steps in my music career.”
Presumably the team at The Live Factory were as impressed with her work ethic as they were with her voice. Besides music and work she says she “practically does nothing” and that if she’s not doing one then she’s doing the other, “I’m a strong believer in that you can never have enough practice; when you’re going to bed early someone else is up crafting their talent.”
Significantly though, Charlotte also reserves time for spending with her family, something that inevitably helps to keep her grounded: “I'm a huge family person so anytime I get with them is a day well spent! I have a lot of younger brothers and sisters so spend a lot of time with them watching Peppa Pig and playing that BeanBoozled game.”
The advantages gained from being fortunate enough to come from a stable and close-knit family environment are invaluable. The music industry is filled with a lot of greed, which can seek to corrupt the more naïve and ruin careers before they’ve even started. Which is why, for now at least, her familial relationship with The Live Factory is perfect.
“What’s good about the people behind me is the friendship and trust we have; there are a lot of selfish people within the music industry that only think of themselves or [the] money side of things. Luckily, I have managed to find some amazing people that enjoy music as much as I do and believe in my craft and me.”
Together they’ve worked on a strategy, designed to promote the release of her EP and accentuate her image. This involves things like the scheduling the timing of single releases and live performances and making decisions over cover art, whilst, crucially, approaching everything one step at a time.
As far as the next year’s concerned Charlotte is “hoping everything goes well with the EP release and the gigs I have lined up. To be able to quit my job and gig for a living would be a result aha! Mainly I just want my music to be heard around London – if that happens I will be a happy girl.”
This is the kind of response you come to expect from Charlotte; humble, earnest and shrewdly determined. After achieving national exposure on The Voice at such a young age, she could be forgiven for having grander expectations or feeling a sense of entitlement, or even disappointment. Her outlook on the experience is, however, refreshing, “I met some amazing singers and am incredibly grateful to have even made it to the live auditions! As far as not getting through I think it was the right thing to happen at that stage; looking back I don't think I was ready for that sort of exposure at all. My music has taken a drastic change and I have a clearer vision as to where I want my music career to head now, but as a whole I think that experience helped me figure myself out as an artist.”
Her ability to absorb experiences and turn them into a source of nourishment in this way suggests wisdom beyond her years. ‘Sundown’, a single from the RnB-styled Making My Way, is a prime example of her ongoing growth as a musician: “It’s actually a really old song of mine; I made the beat when I was back in college for a project we were doing but I came across it a few months ago, as you do, and revamped it.” The single is upbeat and catchy; a song for long summer days and swirling affairs of the heart, and is evocative of Charlotte as an artist – in the video, “You get a good feel as to who I am as a person.”
Who she is as person, it seems to me, is someone who is positive, grounded and ambitious. There is still a lot of room for Charlotte to grow as a musician, but as her EP name alludes to, she is making her way, her way, and, with a fantastic, passionate team behind her, I see no reason why she can’t make it all the way.
Credits: Photography, Femi and Charlotte Turnbull.