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From session singer to chart-topping garage pioneer: Sweet Female Attitude is coming to Romford

PUBLISHED: 16:48 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 01 August 2019

Sweet Female Attitude playing at the House and Garage Orchestra at Brighton's Concorde 2 club. Picture: Andy Mason.

Sweet Female Attitude playing at the House and Garage Orchestra at Brighton's Concorde 2 club. Picture: Andy Mason.

Andy Mason

The garage-house duo Leanne Brown and Andy Mason talk ahead of their on concert at Project Romford on August 3.

Leanne Brown at the House and Garage Orchestra at Brighton's Concorde 2 club. Picture: Andy Mason.Leanne Brown at the House and Garage Orchestra at Brighton's Concorde 2 club. Picture: Andy Mason.

Leanne Brown, who hails from South Manchester, with an unmistakable accent as proof, had initially intended to be a journalist.

She went to cover a competition in 1995 to be one of Pete Waterman's session singers, and was shocked to find herself ushered into the audition room, having not even considered putting her name into the competition.

Startled, a young girl came up to her and said "I heard you singing in the toilet, and so I put your name into the competition!"

Leanne sang Deeper Kind of Love by Elizabeth Troy, she won the competition and she went on get signed with Sarah McKinley from Xtreme Talent who has been booking their gigs ever since.

Soon enough Leanne became Sweet Female Attitude, the Mancunian garage artist best known for her 2000 song Flowers.

The song peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart and went on to become the UK's 37th best-selling single of 2000 and received a Platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of at least 600,000.

Leanne singing at Studio 338 in London. Picture: Andy MasonLeanne singing at Studio 338 in London. Picture: Andy Mason

Since making her name nearly 20 years ago, Leanne's music has morphed from the old school garage and RnB very popular in the late 90s to a more sing-a-long and house style, her husband, Andy Mason has also joined the band as her producer.

"I would describe it as slightly girly, inclusive, dancey, the way I do the vocals is still very RnB, inspired by Mary J Blige," she tells the Recorder. I still take a lot of influence from old garage and grime, my son is really into grime, I like to see what's out there," such as different styles of rap and "new skool" as garage aficionados call it - a modern take on 90s garage that encapsulates elements of house, garage and baseline pioneered by artists such as Majestic, Soulecta and Skepsis.

"I like the heaviness of rap, but I can't rap so I sing instead!" explains Leanne.

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The artist also takes inspiration from her Jamaican heritage and says that the bass elements in her music were probably inspired by her upbringing. "My dad was really into heavy bass, roots, reggae and dub and he played them a lot with great big sound systems." When Leanne isn't touring the country and captivating young audiences, she teaches music at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Manchester.

"I learn more from the students than I do myself".

Andy DJing at Cardiff Student Union. Picture: Cheshire Elite Photography.Andy DJing at Cardiff Student Union. Picture: Cheshire Elite Photography.

The students have been a great influence as well as a huge support for Sweet Female Attitude.

"I show them how to write a dissertation and they show me how to stay current and fresh!" she said, "it's a great trade off."

Now at 40, Leanne and Andy are busier than ever, every weekend and some weeknights are spent bouncing around the country.

Her following is biggest in the south and Streatham in South London has been her favourite gig to date. "Everyone was singing along and knew all the words, there was so much energy!"

The couple recently made a guest appearance on BBC Radio London's Aurie Styla Show.

In 2017 Leanne sang with MC Neat in the BBC Radio 1Xtra Live Lounge. They also have not one but two new albums being released in the autumn, an album of originals and an album of covers.

Leanne singing at Studio 338 in London. Picture: Andy MasonLeanne singing at Studio 338 in London. Picture: Andy Mason

In October, the classical rendition of the garage chart-topper Flowers will be covered by the Sugababes and a 36-piece orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall for the Garage Classical Project, where the most iconic garage songs from the early noughties are transformed into classical concertos. An annual concert where Leanne has played the previous three years.

"I'm so delighted that a lot of artists, but especially the Sugababes will be covering my song, I back them a hundred per cent."

Sweet Female Attitude has been taking the garage community by storm since 1995 with their unique musical mélange of heavy bass and exquisite vocals, this is not one to miss!

The duo will be playing at Project Romford, formerly known as Kosho, in South Street this Saturday, August 3.

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