Terri Walker is an inspiration to many, not just her listeners, but huge names like Keisha White, Joss Stone and even Amy Winehouse. Terri has had a long, successful career in the British contemporary music scene and it’s still flourishing to this day with her new album, My Love Story, dropping just last month.
At our latest weekly Music Industry Mondays event, we had the honour of speaking with this true icon about how she fell in love with music at age four and all the places it took her throughout her musical journey.
Our guest host for the evening, British music journalist Sope Soetan, guided us through Terri’s history and ended the event with some advice Terri would give to young artists just starting out. You can watch the whole event here or keep reading for the fun-sized version.
Terri Walker from the beginning
Terri, born in Roehampton, grew up in Germany and was heavily influenced by music from a young age. At just four years old, she heard ‘Move Closer’ by Phyllis Nelson and instantly knew she wanted to become a singer. She was adamant about making people feel the way that song made her feel.
After giving her mother constant headaches from all of her tone-deaf singing in the house, Terri was eventually allowed to follow her passion and get singing lessons.
She began classical training to be an opera singer at the Academy of Theatre Arts, but she soon realised it wasn’t for her. And it wasn’t just because you aren’t allowed to smoke or drink if you want to be an opera singer. Okay, maybe that was the whole reason, but fair enough.
As Terri was still finding herself and her true passions, her self-described higher power had other ideas. Before she knew it, she was meeting with Shanks & Bigfoot and signing with Def Soul where she made her debut on Top of the Pops and later signed to Def Jam.
Finding herself through music
Terri was starting to take strides in the music industry and released her debut album in March 2003, Untitled, which resulted in her being compared to big names like Miss Dynamite, Estelle and Keisha White. Yet, she still never thought of herself as a “proper singer”. Wild, we know!
At this point, she was still finding herself, which was the main reason for her album title name at the time. Terri wanted to stay true to herself and has managed to do so throughout her entire career.
After rocky relationships with record labels and working with teams that she felt weren’t truly invested in her, Terri took a step back and wanted to preserve her legacy by not really pursuing music.
It wasn’t until lockdown that she was approached by the band Children of Zeus, to work on an album with them, where she felt like she was given a chance to evolve and be inspired to make music again. And the inspiration worked because she was beaming on our stage when she spoke about the new album and all of the meaning behind it. (It’s really cute you should have a watch!)
We even got a couple of sneak peeks including listening to one of her tracks, Fearless, which Sope beautifully describes as the album’s “thematic and spiritual centrepiece” (he doesn’t call himself a writer for nothing).
Terri’s tips for young artists
Before we wrapped up this session, we let our lovely students take the opportunity to ask Terri for advice on how to be a young music artist of today.
One of the most important takeaways was her instruction to forgive yourself. It’s so easy to become too hard on yourself and forget why you are pursuing this path in the first place.
She also made a note encouraging young artists to surround themselves with performers and other creative people similar to them. This is not just to help you come out of your shell but to help each other through collaborations and offer each other genuine support as you all further your careers.
Make the mistakes, sing the flat notes and always believe in yourself because clearly, that’s how you make it.
Why not come down to one of our events in person? Grab the opportunity to ask some of your own questions to major figures in the music industry, and also grab a free drink! Get your tickets for our next event here and we hope to see you there.