Speech Debelle kicked in the UK music industry’s backdoor in 2009 waving her sensitive, introspective debut album, Speech Therapy, which won the Mercury Music Prize for British album of the year, beating the likes of Florence and the Machine, Kasabian and La Roux for the prestigious award.
Her Kwes-produced sophomore album, Freedom Of Speech (2012), commanded further critical acclaim, while expanding Speech’s captivating flair for poetic testimonies, playful narratives and dynamic rumination on power, politics and pleasure.
She later stepped away from music for a few years to grow and develop her other passions; her zeal for cooking tantalised the nation with her inventive recipes as a semi-finalist on Celebrity Masterchef, while her socially conscious drive saw her curating a moving exhibition of art by prisoners for the Koestler Trust’s The Strength and Vulnerability Bunker at London’s iconic Southbank Centre in 2013. More recently she performed in aid of housing and homelessness charity Shelter, and became the voice of H&M’s 2017 Bring It On recycling campaign.
Speech’s love for music and food combine in her weekly podcast, The Work Brunch — as she cooks and discusses music, life and inspiration with a range of esteemed guests including Lianne La Havas, Nitin Sawhney, Shabaka Hutchings and Mikill Pane — and now the emotive wordsmith offers further intimate truths and lessons in her cookbook memoir. Available to download with her new album, tantil before i breathe: a cookbook and memoir by Speech Debelle shows that, “music and food are art – they heal and inspire.”
“I’ve been an open book since the beginning, it made sense to put that into something tangible. I’ve experienced so much in my career that I wanted to share some of the stories. These are the lessons I’ve learnt about the business and myself; the journey with the two has been parallel,” Speech explains. “The healing happens when we’re ready. There’ll be that one lover that’ll show you what you need to show yourself. The conversation you’ve been waiting your whole life to have with your mother or father without even knowing it. That look in the mirror one day when you see yourself as beautiful. Your skin, bones and soul.”
So, tantil before i breathe. is Speech’s third album: an emotionally-crafted independent project that explores her developing self-awareness, healing and liberation – a voyage of becoming; the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional work done to “recognise the scars, uncover the reasons, then let the light in and become whole.” Accompanied by her digital cookbook and memoir, it is filled with intimate stories documenting the highs and lows of the poetic South London lyricist’s journey through life and the music business.
Speech Debelle is back.