Laura Mvula: “the music industry is sexist, it is racist, it is a lot of ‘ists'”

As Glastonbury preparations get under way, the singer speaks out – and Emily Eavis and Jo Whiley celebrate the girl power of this year's line-up

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Soul singer Laura Mvula has spoken out about the music industry, calling it sexist and racist.  

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“I work mostly with males, whether in the boardroom, in the studio to produce an album, or in the stage production – it seems to be the way that it is,” she explains in this week’s Radio Times Glastonbury special. “Sometimes I feel isolated and misunderstood: being a woman in this industry, if you say anything with assertiveness or authority, you are often quickly labelled a diva.”

She adds: “The music industry is sexist, it is racist, it is a lot of ‘ists’.'”

Commenting on Florence Welch becoming the first female headliner at Glastonbury this century in 2015, Mvula says, “I think that’s sad and surprising and it highlights we have so far to go, so much to do,” attributing the lack of equality to the public having “become brainwashed into just experiencing what mainstream media thrusts into our faces. 

“These are the Donald Trump times of music.” 

And discussing awards, Mvula says that of the prizes she’s missed out on – including being pipped to the post by Ellie Goulding at the 2014 Brits – losing the Mercury Award to James Blake “hurt the most”.

“What is difficult is that there is no cause and effect. It isn’t that black and white, but there are all kinds of issues and prejudices. I don’t think my chocolate skin helps in this context.”

Also in this week’s issue, Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis discusses her efforts to make this year’s festival line-up “strong on women”, with Adele headlining, and Mvula joining Jess Glynne, Ellie Goulding, Cyndi Lauper, Wolf Alice and more in the limelight.

“Hopefully we’re doing our bit to support the new female artists coming through,” Eavis says, adding that she’s thrilled at how many women are responsible for actually putting the festival together. “We’re a proper women’s army down here!”

For Glastonbury veteran Jo Whiley, this new girl power is worth celebrating. “It’s great that women are now headlining Glastonbury. The fact is, older male rock bands have always been more bankable.” She thinks it’s crucial for young women like her daughters to witness Adele and Mvula centre stage at a festival.

“It’s incredibly important to me that they have strong, exciting female role models.”

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Read the full interviews with Laura Mvula, Emily Eavis, Jo Whiley and singer Cyndi Lauper in this week’s Radio Times – on sale from Tuesday in shops and on the newsstand.

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