Wura Abimbola is a professional singer and leader of Gold, one of Encore’s top gospel choirs. Last month, she stunned judges and audiences with her incredible voice on ITV’s The Voice and made it onto Tom Jones’ team. We caught up with her to hear how she got to this point, her top tips for staying positive during lockdown, and how it felt to sing live on television!
Wura performs ‘Strange’ by Celeste in week 3 of The Voice UK 2021 Blind Auditions!
Hi Wura, thanks so much for stopping by for a virtual interview! Firstly, congratulations on joining Team Tom on The Voice!
What did it feel like to sing on national television in front of all the judges?
It was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I remember going on stage and it felt surreal like I stepped into my TV set. I was definitely star-struck when I saw the judges but they were all so kind which helped with the nerves.
You’re through to the Battle stage! How are you feeling about the remainder of the competition?
Honestly, I am surprised I made it this far. There are so many incredible artists on the show and I’m really excited about the battles which will be on air very soon. Plus it feels great to finally perform with a full band again, I have really missed it.
What was the process for getting onto the show? Would you have any advice for someone considering auditioning for the next series?
The whole audition process was quite fun and it wasn’t too difficult.
Anyone interested in auditioning should definitely give it a go. Whatever happens, you’ll have a fantastic time and the team on The Voice are amazing. You are also introduced to a whole audience you might have never been able to reach. Definitely give it a go.
I wasn’t in the best place mentally or physically but the process of filling the application form online and preparing myself for the auditions gave me something to look forward to and snap me out of the pandemic lows.
You seemed remarkably cool on stage! Do you have any pre-performance rituals to get in the zone before a gig?
I was definitely not cool inside! I was petrified but I kept reminding myself of what was at stake.
My pre-performance ritual is over-preparing. I practice the song exactly how I intend to sing it on the day so it feels natural even If I’m nervous.
Also, a lot of breathing exercises to combat nerves.
Outside of The Voice, you’re a founding member of one of Encore’s top gospel choirs Gold. How have you been keeping yourself busy during the pandemic (with the group or as a solo artist)?
With the choir, before the Lockdown, we recorded little videos here and there so we had some content to play with on our social media. We also have our Whatsapp group where we check on each other.
Personally, as much as I’m not a big fan of backing tracks… backing tracks are my new best friend.
I’m a new mum so I don’t always have a lot of time to practice during the day, so at night when everyone is asleep, I have a little karaoke session with myself and try new songs I wouldn’t normally sing. I going outside my comfort zone always teaches me something new about myself musically.
Pre-pandemic, what was your top Encore gig with Gold (if you can stretch your memory that far back!)?
We had so many amazing gigs from Encore and the clients have all been amazing. However, my favourite was in 2019 during the Christmas period. It was a surprise proposal gig. The client hired a venue and we pretended like we were the house band.
The setlist was all her favourite songs and when it got to their “couples song”, he got down on his knees and proposed. It was so beautiful and there were no dry eyes in the building. Definitely one of my favourite gigs on Encore!
It’s definitely been a challenging time for all musicians. What are the things you do to keep your spirits up?
Family! I have a baby so when I get weary, I get unlimited cuddles from my son. I also took up baking, which is funny because, before the pandemic, I couldn’t even make pancakes. Now I’m flexing in the kitchen. I need to create to feel productive. Cakes are my new creative outlet.
I have also started writing new material. making plans for a new project is a great way to help me see beyond the pandemic and puts me in a hopeful space.
When things get really bad I like to meditate, pray, sing or listen to uplifting songs.
Wura singing Whitney Houstons’s Higher Love with her group Gold
What are your plans and ambitions for the rest of 2021? Anything we should put in our diaries?
Well! Apart from trying to win The Voice (!), I’m writing new materials at the moment, so as soon as Uncle Boris frees us, I’m heading to the studio to work on a couple of songs. I’m also looking forward to finally being able to gig again and attend events. I HAVE REALLY MISSED WEDDINGS!
What would be your #1 piece of advice for musicians who are struggling right now?
I save uplifting posts, pictures and all things that inspire me so when I’m struggling I can go back to them and they help me get out of my head.
I believe in writing down your dreams and visions and setting attainable goals. Save it as your screensaver and every day do something that takes you closer to your goal. Please also utilise the Musicians Union and Help Musicians. They are always posting about grants, seminars and support for mental health for musicians.
Finally, who are your biggest musical inspirations? And could you recommend a top track you’ve been listening to recently (for me to add to my playlist!)?
At the moment I am listening to my friends on Spotify. I think it’s important now even more than ever to support each other.
I literally created a playlist that I play at least once a day, songs from Shanteh, Enesi, Mabel Agbenorto a song called At Night by Arieleno.
However, my favourite dance track while doing my chores is Agolo by Angelique Kidjo. It’s my happy song.
Cover image credit: The Voice, ITV