Siena Yates is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

The greatest thing Lianne La Havas learned from Prince was how to just do what she wanted

Lianne La Havas is playing her own sell-out show ahead of opening for Coldplay in Auckland. Photo / Supplied
Lianne La Havas is playing her own sell-out show ahead of opening for Coldplay in Auckland. Photo / Supplied

Lianne La Havas is touching down in New Zealand today where she'll be playing a solo show tonight before opening for pop superstars Coldplay tomorrow night.

The UK singer came up from playing on tour with Paloma Faith before she branched out on her own "to pave the way to do my own thing".

Having been playing music since she was 7 years old, La Havas was a natural.

"I saw it as this thing that I did and that I loved and that made me feel good. And around the same time is when I began singing as well and realising that it felt really nice but not really knowing what I was doing actually," she laughs.

Later in life, she was influenced by one of the greatest musicians ever, her friend Prince.

"He was everything. Of course he was massively inspirational in a number of ways and I guess one of the main things I took away from having spent any time with him is just his incredible work ethic, but at the same time having it not feeling like work because its music and it's just so enjoyable to do," she recalls.

Just this because it's so amazing. #MrNelson

A photo posted by Lianne La Havas (@liannelahavas) on

"He really made you remember how enjoyable music is and how many possibilities there are and he always encouraged me to just keep doing it. He just did what he wanted, what he felt was right and I think that is so important to do for a lot of artists."

And that's what she's doing now - taking her time with a new record until she can "have it be as me as possible".

Lianne La Havas will play her show solo with a guitar at her own show, and with her band at the Coldplay show. Photo / AP
Lianne La Havas will play her show solo with a guitar at her own show, and with her band at the Coldplay show. Photo / AP

Some have referred to La Havas as a "neo soul sister", a label she continues to reject although she is coming to terms with at least being called a soul artist.

"I don't really know what my genre is but I see genre in a whole new way now. The word soul music, I have a new found understanding of when it comes to what I do. If you're just singing the truth from your own heart then it can't not be soul music," she says.

"So I'm okay being called a soul artist as long as the person saying it knows what soul means."

She's hoping to release her third album next year if possible, but until then she's busy touring, including a visit to New Zealand this weekend.

She'll play to a sold-out crowd at Auckland's Tuning Fork tonight, and will open for worldwide sensations Coldplay tomorrow night at Mt Smart Stadium.

Backstage at #WembleyStadium with @coldplay recently #mental Photo by lovely @joshshinner

A photo posted by Lianne La Havas (@liannelahavas) on

"I'm so excited. [Coldplay] are such lovely people, we really all got to know each other as a family and as a team and when they gave me the opportunity to come to New Zealand, it was a no brainer.

"I couldn't not do it - I've never been and I just wanted to see if anybody was listening."

- NZ Herald

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