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Islandista on the rise: VV Brown

Islandistas, have you heard of VV Brown?

If you haven’t, you probably will soon.

The British-born soul rocker of Jamaican and Puerto Rican parentage has only been on everyone’s Hot List for 09.


The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the LA Times, the Independent and BBC all placed her on their lists of ones to watch in 2009. 

Her musical style is a bit vintage, like that of other female stars of this new Brit invasion such as Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele.

photo credit: Ben Yacobi
photo credit: Ben Yacobi

 However, unlike them, VV draws more on  more up-tempo, 50s and 60s era doo-wop and rock, as heard in her breakout hit Crying Blood which is easily the most cheerful sounding song about a heart-wrenching break up that we have ever heard.

If that is not enough for you, VV (real name Vanessa) is well set to take her place among the ranks of other islandista it girls such as Rihanna and Vashtie Kola, whose sense of style is so quirky, fierce and yet independently theirs, that fashionistas are falling over themselves. 

At 5 “11 and with some seriously exotic looks (we’re not sure but she looks to be a combination of Jamaican black chinese and hispanic) she was basically commandeered into modelling. She has done a shoot for UK Vogue and performed at London Fashion Week earlier this year, at the invitation of Indian designer Ashish, who is a big fan of hers.

VV Brown

The fashion pack loves her look, with her signature retro flat top rolled bangs and her charity/vintage shop dress sense. Amidst launching her album, she is also preparing to open her own vintage clothing store, VV Vintage.

So what is the ‘s’ on this islandista-by-descent?

Well to start at the beginning, she is the oldest of six children born to a Jamaican father and Puerto Rican mother in Northampton, England. Her parents run their own school, Overstone Park, which VV attended. She got four As at A’level and turned down Oxford, LSE and a few other big name unis to pursue her music career.

By age 17, she was performing backing vocals for groups such as Westlife, Madonna and the Pussycat Dolls when they did live tv appearances.

She also ended up writing for both the Dolls and British girl group, the Sugababes. Record labels showed interest and she eventually signed a solo deal with Polydor but that … didn’t go too well.

She told the Times:

“The production took my songs somewhere I had never envisioned. The more strings they added, the more the music lost its honesty and innocence. I was too scared to say I hated it.”

The deal broke down and she ended up broke and worse, in love with an “arsehole” as she so succintly puts it. As the relationship broke down and she became even more broke, she sold her keyboard to get a ticket back to London, moved into a teeny unfurnished flat, bought a one-stringed guitar and began to write and sing her heartache.

And that heartache is what has led to her debut album, Travelling Like the Light and her album deal with Island Record.

And now everything has come full circle as she is back in London where she first started her musical career and as it turns out, where fame would find her after all.

By Me

island ~ ista
From Latin -ista via Portuguese -ista
one who follows a principle; an adept.

As an islandista I live, embody, exude the spirit of the Caribbean islands.

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