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Discover Miriam Stockley

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1999 was a great musical year for me in addition to being the start point of my more serious music photo-journalism career. It was a year of several outstanding record releases and my discovery of exceptional acts such as the Frames, Moby, David Gray, Paddy Casey, Nitin Sawhney and others. It was also the year I discovered Jeff Buckley and one of my top-ten records of all time, GRACE.

It was the year a CD landed on my desk by a lady called Miriam Stockley. Entitled MIRIAM, I was blown away by the artist’s voice and the music which in part was composed by her. The record impressed me so much I arranged an interview with Miriam at the Virgin label’s office in North London, some 200 miles away from my home base. Of the many interviews I have carried out over the years it was one of the most interesting and enjoyable. Miriam made the interview so easy for me and on its conclusion informed me that she was going to visit George Martin to sample a song which he created for Celine Dion. I could sense and see that Miriam and her music were one and the same - sincere, beautiful and calming. For this feature I managed to contact Miriam in Florida and asked her to tell me about how she started and developed her amazingly diverse musical career…

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Miriam By Miriam

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and I started my singing career in amateur theatre productions when I was about 9 years old. My musical influences were The Carpenters and a later as a teenager, Linda Ronstadt, Sergio Mendes The Eagles and ABBA. I loved Latin jazz, or anything that contained good vocal harmonies. By the age of 12, I had recorded my first single: ‘Burn, Burn, Burn’, about kids burning down their school.. it was banned by local radio.

I worked as a session singer in the recording studios for many years in South Africa, doing TV and radio jingles, along with back up work for different artists. I was also doing band gigs at night, plus my sister Avryl and I, had a few hits as the successful singing duo: The Stockley Sisters, which led to extensive touring and TV appearances. I pursued a solo career as well and in 1979, I was signed to Carrere Records in France.

At the age of 18, I moved over to the UK permanently and continued my session singing career, doing countless TV series and films, TV and radio commercials, backing vocal sessions and live concerts with artists such as Tina Turner, Queen, Tom Jones, David Bowie, George Michael and countless others.

In the early nineties, one of my TV commercials for Fiat Tempra, was made into a single under the group name: Praise, the single was entitled: ‘Only You’. It was remixed and released through George Michael’s label and it reached number 3 in the British charts. An album followed with a few more single releases. Due to politics within the record label, the album was deleted.

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It was at this time, Karl Jenkins and Mike Ratledge, booked me to sing on their TV and radio commercials and one of these was for Delta Airlines. Once again, the commercial was made into a single and it jumped into the UK classical chart. We decided to record an album under the name of Adiemus and it sold many millions of albums around the world. After 4 albums, touring and concerts as Adiemus, I signed to Virgin Records and I recorded and released a solo album entitled: MIRIAM. Simultaneously, my family and I embarked on a new adventure. We moved from the UK to the United States.

There, reunited with a team of two American musicians: Richard Gannaway, Sandeep Chowta and  the multi talented keyboard maestro, Jay Oliver on a World Music project entitled AO Music, as a composer, vocalist and vocal arranger. We made several award-winning albums together and our 5th album, entitled KUTUMBA, is due for release on the 26th of March 2021.

I describe my musical style as multi ethnic, multi faceted and multi tracked. I have written vocalese (made up phonetics), for many years and I love to track up my voice several dozens of times, creating different choral sounds, whether it be imitating kids, a gospel choir or a classical choir. I have never done any job other than music. It has been my life since a young child and it continues to enrich my life musically and spiritually.

I have quite an eclectic taste in music and I tend to listen to music, mainly from the seventies and eighties. You can hear Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, Richard Marx, Toto, Linda Ronstadt, George Benson, Boston, Gino Vannelli, The Carpenters and Al Jarreau, coming from all corners of my house. It is music which is nostalgic, uplifting, but always with great musical integrity.

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