More Than Mumford’s Opener

Listen Now: Michael Kiwanuka

Source Ferdy Damman/Getty

Why you should care

Because one sound of Michael Kiwanuka’s voice, and you’re emotionally sucked in.

I thought I was in love with Marcus Mumford — until I heard his opener: Michael Kiwanuka. Born to Ugandan parents who fled the Amin regime, the scruffy North Londoner picked up the guitar when he was 12 — and has since never put it down. Influenced by Hendrix and Dylan, Joni and Otis, Kiwanuka’s voice is soulful, ragged and raw, and sounds far older and wiser than his mere 24 years.

Last summer, he performed everywhere from the Newport Folk Festival and Jimmy Kimmel to the Netherlands’ 2013 Lowlands. For this meteorically rising singer-songwriter, it’s all about the human connection. “That’s what music is for,” he recently said from his tour bus. ”For connecting with each other.”

Not in a LinkedIn kind of way — in that real, old-fashioned, emotionally sucked-in sort of way. Watch, listen, swoon, and you’ll understand.

After a whirlwind year, including a recent cancellation of shows in Germany due to a throat infection, no wonder he’s taking a little break from performing, although he did just announce that he’s starting an independent label, Movement Records. He’ll be doing A&R for Movement, which is focusing on a soul-rooted sound, and we can’t wait to hear the first releases. But please Michael, get back on the road soon. We’re waiting. 



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