The Diary of Yolanda Quartey
Yolanda Quartey from Bristol started singing at the age of five. After singing in jazz bands as a teenager, she became involved with the break-beats scene, working with Bugz in the Attic and Jazzanova. With a unique voice, she is lead singer of six-piece soul and country band Phantom Limb, who have just released their first album (Naim Label, England). Quartey is also in demand from other groups, having performed with Dizzie Rascal, toured with Massive Attack, and having co-written the lead single for Will Young’s Christmas album. She now also teaches speech-therapeutic singing at Bath Spa University. www.myspace.com/phantomlimbrobot
I’d like to be back on the road, be it in the UK, Europe or the US. There is little regularity in my life. I have no general feeling, nothing that occurs regularly.
When it started snowing last month, I was stood out back at my boyfriend’s parents’ place at night catching snowflakes whilst he had a cigarette. I feel anticipation when it’s really starry and the constellations are crystal clear even in the city. But these are all very transient things.
I was nineteen when, after a photo shoot, I lost my whole show wardrobe in one go from the back of a now ex-friend’s car boot. It never stops hurting, never! No really, for a teenager that really hurts. When your’re a very curvy girl it’s almost impossible to find things that you love that fit. So I lost more than textiles; I lost months off my life.
I would not like to repeat my first twenty-five years. I’ve hit my stride now but its been hard, and being a passenger in my own life is a feeling that I have fought hand and tooth to reverse. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get by and as part of the process I’d do all manner of projects, none of which I’d ever choose to do again. Only now am I doing what I want to do when I want to do it, and that took more time and pain than I’d ever like to go through again.
Three things about Rage Against the Machine making it to the Christmas number one made me feel optimistic. One: it was proved that people can rule through sheer numbers alone if nothing else, even though we’re told so often that it’s not the case. Two: when Rage were playing live on the BBC and the presenter though it was funny to ask them to censor ‘Living in the Name’, clearly missing the point of the song and especially that chorus. I understand his motivation, but really, what an idiotic thing to ask! So, of course they feigned toeing the line right up until the end of the song where they screamed ‘F**k you. I won’t do what you tell me’ louder than they ever would have done if they hadn’t been asked to not to swear. Three: when they donated the money made from the Christmas single to shelter – that’s big.
Published on 1 February 2010