Hil St. Soul

Born out of an unlikely alliance between Zambian singer-songwriter Hilary Mwelwa, known for her versatility across soul, jazz and gospel, and UK hip-hop producer Victor “VRS” Redwood-Sawyerr, then best recognised as a close affiliate of Blak Twang, Hil St. Soul entered the British neo-soul scene at the turn of the millennium. Blurring the lines between traditional soul, R&B, funk and hip-hop, the duo debuted in 1999 with a slew of singles on French label Black Station, which would swiftly be picked up by former Sony and EMI executive Peter Robinson’s label, Dome Records, and licensed via Universal. “Strictly a Vibe Thang”, “There for Me” and “Nostalgia” served as the first three singles from the pair’s debut album, Soul Organic, which landed later the same year. In 2002, they signed to independent label Gut Records, with whom they released a second album, Copasetik & Cool. The LP housed the duo’s most successful single to date, “All That (+ A Bag O’Chips)”, which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 81, and also saw them team up with British hip-hop star Roots Manuva on the project’s title track. After signing to independent stateside label Shanachie, they returned with two more albums, 2006’s SOULidified and 2008’s Black Rose, neither of which found chart success. Following a lengthy hiatus, Mwelwa revived the Hil St. Soul name in 2017, using the moniker for a number of collaborations with other producers including Tom Glide and Mike Delgado. Redwood-Sawyerr has since become an industry executive, founding the consultancy Red 1 Arts and serving as the managing director of events and artist management company iluvlive.

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