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Labi Siffre

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Biography

Labi Siffre (born June 25, 1945) is an English poet, songwriter and singer.

Born the fourth of five children, at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital Hammersmith, London to a Barbadian / Belgian mother and a Nigerian father, Siffre was brought up in Bayswater and Hampstead and educated at a Catholic monastery school, St Benedict’s School, in Ealing.

Jazz and Blues records provided his musical education: Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Charlie Mingus among many. Jimmy Reed and Wes Montgomery loomed large as guitar influences; Billie Holiday, Jimmy Reed and Mel Tormé as vocal influences.

In July 1964 he met his partner Peter Lloyd. Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, they became legally recognised partners when the Act entered into force in December 2005.

His first six albums of songs were released between 1970 and 1975, and a further three albums between 1988 and 1998. In the early 1970s he had solo hits with “It Must Be Love” (No. 14, 1971) (later covered by and a No. 4 hit for Madness, for which Siffre himself appeared in the video); “Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying” (No. 11, 1972); and “Watch Me” (No. 29, 1972).

In 1978 two of his songs, “Solid Love” (performed by Siffre) and “We Got It Bad” (co-written and performed by Bob James) reached the UK finals of the BBC’s A Song for Europe.

His 1987 hit “(Something Inside) So Strong”, which reached No. 4, an anti Apartheid anthem and more, has remained enduringly popular and is an example of the political and sociological thread running through much of Siffre’s lyrics and poetry since the single “Thank Your Lucky Star” and the album “For the Children” (1973).

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