Rising artist CHERISE talks about her new creative direction, supporting Michael Kiwanuka and her latest dreamy release “Secrets”.

Few artists have the ability to transport you somewhere simply with their vocal abilities, but it’s safe to say that CHERISE is one of the few. With just the opening line of her newest track “Secrets”, you’re woken by tranquillity, with the sounds of blissful nature outside your window and the scent of freshly-brewed coffee floating through the air. Alongside her expert storytelling, CHERISE’s silky vocals and soul sensibilities moves the listener through dimensions, marking a new direction for the young artist.


The artist started honing her talents as a youth, attending free classes at Tomorrow’s Warriors: an organisation that runs a programme to support the careers of young musicians. Today, she is considered one of the program’s elite alumni, joining a list of artists including Ezra Collective, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. From there, she attended Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she earned her title as a classically trained jazz musician. 

One of CHERISE’s earliest projects, ‘Evelyn and the Yellow Birds’, which she showcased at the London Jazz Festival, was a tribute to her grandmother who came to London as part of the Windrush generation. The singer-songwriter has carried both gratitude and respect for her family and culture throughout her musical career. In 2021, she released the single “Remedy”, which took a personal approach to RnB and made clear her raw and timeless storytelling talents. 


CHERISE’s newest track, “Secrets”, is the first taster of her upcoming project, which is set to be released over the coming weeks. We spoke with the multifaceted artist about her new musical direction, performing with personal heroes, and journeying to Switzerland for the “Secrets” music video.

Hi CHERISE, it feels like an exciting time for you right now! You just released your new track “Secrets”, congratulations! Why did you want it to be the first single shared from your forthcoming project?

I’m so excited! Thank you for showing my music some love, it means a lot to me. “Secrets” is about being brave enough to be honest about who you are with those you love. And I wanted it to be the first song that I share because of that. I’m trying to be honest about who I am with those who get to know me. I’m human, I’m glorious, I’m messy, I’m soulful.

I read that “Secrets” marks a new creative direction for you, which sounds like a great prospect! How did you put yourself in the position to be creatively brave and take the necessary risks to evolve your art? 

Yes it is. When writing this project, I told myself to lead with storytelling and not genre. And that was a huge step forward for me. For a long time I’ve felt conflicted about how to combine the skills I’ve gained through a history with jazz, with my pure love for RnB and soul. I found it through this project! I just write and sing from the heart with a commitment to telling the story.

You’re also releasing a special video alongside it; the visual aspect of your work seems important to you. How does this video help to tell the narrative you sing about in the song?

I took myself all the way to Zurich Switzerland last Summer in order to bring the vision to life. It was a risk – but I was committed to the concept. I wanted to find landscapes that represent purity, honesty and clarity. I’m grateful to have collaborated with two stellar Swiss friends, Patricia Humm, my stylist, and Luca Perrin (LCPRN), the filmmaker. They took me to a vast lake with crystal clear waters and propped me up in the middle of it so it looks like I’m walking on water! We also went to a corn field at sunset and I stood on a ladder, moving with the breeze amongst it all.
When you listen back to your first projects, like ‘Paradise’, how do they make you feel three years on? They’re inherently different to this new single but they must be special, and you’ve managed to build a loyal fanbase off them.   
I feel proud of my past self for self-releasing music. I remember feeling so scared about whether my music fully represented who I am as an artist. And I realise now that I didn’t know how much room I have to grow and develop. I composed by myself for the acoustic band and strings quartet. Not to mention the 15 piece choir.  Highlighting that I’m a competent composer and musician meant a lot to me, especially as a Black woman. Now I’ve grown to a point where I know I have nothing to prove and my next project is a celebration of the fact I know my calling.

At this early stage, is there anything that you can tell us about the new project? What’s the creative process been like? 

Yes! I can tell you that this project was only supposed to be a four track EP. It was day one of recording at the legendary Metropolis Studios in West London. Tobie Tripp is the producer who brought most of the project to life. We started recording and deep down we knew this project could be bigger. Every time I added s song, I asked what the purpose was and whether it was truly adding value. This project is the best I’ve ever made – there are no filler tracks.
You’re considered one of the elite alumni of Tomorrow’s Warriors: a pioneering Young Artist Development Programme, alongside the likes of Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Their work seems integral to nurturing the jazz talent of today. Can you tell us how it’s personally fostered you a music career?  
Gary Crosby OBE and Janine Irons MBE steward a Black run arts organisation that seeks to develop young individuals who have aspirations to be jazz musicians – especially women. From the age of 16, I have had clear ambitions to become the best soul singer and songwriter I can by first grounding myself in the skills of being a jazz musician. Gary and Janine made this possible for me. Despite jazz originating within Black communities, I didn’t see myself represented in jazz education. I was often the only Black girl. With Tomorrow’s Warriors, I didn’t feel alone. They gave me a safe space to develop my skills and more importantly, my self worth.

Over your career, you’ve naturally progressed from jazz to a more soul-orientated sound. Being able to make both genres has won you support from people like Michael Kiwanuka, who you supported on tour in France last year. That must have been an amazing experience! Can you describe it to us? 

Not to be dramatic, but it was a dream come true. I’ve looked up to Michael for years, as an artist who has defined what soul means for him in a deeply bespoke way. It’s inspiring! And for him to believe in me and invite me to play stages like L’Olympia in Paris? It’s opened a door for what I see as possible for myself. One day I hope to headline stages like that too.

Speaking of France, you’ve previously worked with the Parisian label Sézane. What did you get up to? Is indulging in the fashion-sphere something that you’d like to do more often? 

Sézane have been so supportive of me. Firstly, they set up a live session at Ronnie Scotts in November 2021, and they filmed a performance of my song “Remedy” while styling me in the season’s latest. And in 2022, when I was in Paris, they invited me to their headquarters to perform a solo set while showcasing their latest collection. My creativity also comes out through Fashion. I plan to let this side of myself blossom as the project is revealed.
You’ve got festival appearances at both Love Supreme and Cross the Tracks coming up this year. If you could play any open aired event around the world, which would it be and why?  

Good question, it’s so hard to choose. I’d like to play in any place that my music resonates. Just one person in the audience knowing the words to a song I’ve written brings me the utmost fulfilment. If I really had to choose, I’d say that I’d like to play in Japan, because it would be cool to know that the music has been far reaching. I’d like to play Coachella too.

It looks like 2023 will be a standout year for you. With so much to look forward to, what are you personally excited for from the year ahead? 

I’m excited for people to hear the songs. It’s what I live for! To create, share and connect. Then hopefully the songs will find their own unique meaning in peoples lives and hearts. 
Thank you so much for taking the time to highlight my story and my music.

Listen to "Secrets" below: