Bella McKendree

“Intriguing. Captivating. Unique. A beautifully distinct vocal, delicately vulnerable in places and bold in others with an old-school timeless depth. Emotive transparent lyrics, soaring vocal harmonies with atmospheric drums and guitar create an ethereal sound. Something fresh and different.” Harriet Compson

Bella has just finished her upcoming Debut E.P at London’s 123 Studios. One of the tracks ‘Baby Let’s Fall’ has just been released.

Bella is currently gigging nationally with her band. At live shows she’s been likened to Lana Del Rey, London Grammar and Stevie Nicks. Her E.P will be released in Spring 2017 and is highly anticipated.

Growing up with four siblings in the depth of the countryside, song-writing was a way for Bella to have space and develop her identity. Her mother would sing classical music and listen to Simon & Garfunkel and The Fugees and her dad would play the blues and gospel pop at church. When her dad created a recording studio in the garden she would escape there to sing.

Around 11, Bella started writing songs acapella and discovered the piano. “It was a very special time and an intimate experience. Discovering a way to process my emotions and an outlet for my thoughts. I would close my eyes and go into a whole other world and be completely unselfconscious. It was incredibly therapeutic and that freedom became addictive.”

“From a young age I felt the need to express issues I saw around me. I would naturally write about a story I heard on the news or a friend’s struggle. I felt a need to be a voice for the oppressed and to provide relief for those in pain. This revelation was a burning and powerful desire and is still the fuel for when I write. That’s my fire; singing for something bigger than myself, a reason beyond what I see. I guess every artist needs something to draw from – and that’s my well.”

Shortly afterwards, Bella reluctantly learnt classical piano followed by singing. Learning classical music at school and listening to Alicia Keys in the car along with the range of music at home saw the birth of a gospel, blues, soul and pop classical infusion. The old with the new. She had found her niche.

At 16 a local promoter heard her song on ‘myspace’ and she started playing her first gigs. Two years later, right after a break-up, she accidentally stumbled across the songs of Jeff Buckley. “I had always skipped past the organ intro in ‘Lover you should’ve come over’ as I thought it was a Baroque piece and once I left it playing and was like ‘woah what’s this!’ I felt I could mourn the end of a relationship as his singing expressed feelings I couldn’t fathom, bringing healing. Which I think is part of the role of an artist; you’re there to inspire, to provoke, to heal. I loved Buckley’s hunger and the raw nature of his delivery, it was something that stood out to me and I admired it. To really sing without holding anything back. I think that’s rare and it takes a lot of inner strength. I had to replace this cultural lie of “if you’re a girl you’re meant to stand there and look pretty.”

After Bella attended Brighton Institute of Modern Music, she worked with Producer Martin Wright helping to hone her craft. “We recorded five songs in an intimate setting to invite people into my world”

In 2012, Bella toured all over the U.K including dates at Mama Stones and Edinburgh Fringe Festival with 50% of profits going towards helping to build a music school in Zambia.

Recently Bella moved to London, starting a band inspired by the likes of Half Moon Run, London Grammar and The XX. In late 2017, she started working with Grammy Award-winning Producer Brett Shaw. Bella has just finished her upcoming Debut E.P at London’s 123 Studios. One of the tracks ‘Baby Let’s Fall’ has just been released.

25% of profits will go to ‘Pioneer61’ a non-profit organisation in Tete, Mozambique, rescuing orphans and women from the sex-slave trade industry.

Harriet Compson