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‘We Weren’t as Interesting as the Other’: Cynthia Erivo Discusses How Black Soul Artists are Overlooked in the U.K. Music Scene Compared to White Soul Singers

British-born actress Cynthia Erivo is living her wildest dreams. In less than a decade, she has won a Tony, Grammy and Emmy, become a published author, and portrayed “The Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin.

But while her mounting accomplishments may seem like somewhat a figment of her own imagination, there is no denying she is turning her visions into reality. Her latest is pursuing a musical career — yes, fans and critics alike are aware of the vocal powerhouse she is, considering her Broadway success with “The Color Purple” — rooted in original songs, not just covers she has sung for various roles.

Cynthia Erivo (bottom center) was all smiles as she posed for photos with friends after an iconic performance at The Hollywood Bowl on July 30, 2021. (Photo: @elainewelteroth/Instagram)

Her debut album “Ch. 1 Vs. 1” is set for a September release; her first single “The Good’ was released in June. Growing up in London, Erivo knew she wanted to pursue a musical career but the lack of sustained success by Black artists made it challenging to see her dream as achievable and not just a lofty desire.

“There were Black voices, women who would create music, but often that wasn’t attractive [in the music industry]. What was attractive was — and she’s amazing — but like, a Joss Stone [ who is a white soul singer],” Erivo told Yahoo Music.

“That was more interesting to hear, like a white girl who sounded like a Black woman who had soul. And often that was the case.” She continued, “We [Black artists] weren’t as interesting as the other. And it’s sad, because I feel like there could have been space for all of us, really. And we’re still trying to catch up. There isn’t a lot to look at when it comes to music from Black artists in the U.K., especially for artists who are making R&B and soul.”

But Erivo has found her space here in the U.S. where her work on screen is often celebrated by the Hollywood community, and the full gamut of her musical talents are anticipated. Marking her first major performance as Cynthia Erivo the singer — instead of the talented actress who can sing — she graced the iconic stage of The Hollywood Bowl. In her debut, she belted out tracks from her unreleased album as well as covers of hits by Mary J. Bilge, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, to name a few.

Erivo can attest to there being “artists like myself who aren’t as lucky to get recognition for the work that they do. But they deserve it.” And while that may be true for the music climate in the U.K., stateside, she’s begun to hit a stride with her following.

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