An Introduction to Northern Soul with Levanna McLean

Levanna Mclean, aka Northern Soul Girl, has taken the internet by storm in recent months after posting clips of herself dancing to her beloved Northern Soul music in the streets of her hometown of Bristol and further afield. Levanna is part of a new generation of Northern Soul fans that’s keeping the scene very much alive across the UK, and we love what she’s about. Her videos are beaming with positive vibes and if you haven’t seen any of them yet, here’s a little taster.

Since her YouTube videos gained popularity, Levanna has been in high demand and has taken her Northern Soul moves across the globe. As well as dancing, Levanna can also be found DJing at Northern Soul nights across the country.

We haven’t yet covered Northern Soul on Yet Another Music Blog, so where better to start than with a few words from Northern Soul Girl herself. Levanna was kind enough to give us an insight into her passion for music and pick out a few tracks that are doing it for her right now.

Here’s what she had to say:

Levanna: My love for Northern Soul music has been relatively short, about a couple of years now…and in that time I have not been able to get enough of it! My interest came about from several influences including my mum’s history on the Northern Soul scene, and contemporary artists who have taken their influences from old soul music. In particular Amy Winehouse and the Heavy who are very soulful and some of Amy’s covers included songs that were pivotal in my discovery of Northern Soul Music.

The release of her ‘Our Day Will Come’ prompted me to listen to the original by Ruby and The Romantics which topped even Amy’s version, with its totally atmospheric sound and beautiful harmonies. My continued search to find and dance to soul music takes me all over the country attending different nights and hearing some of the best DJs play their brilliant, inspirational sets.

levanna mclean

Since going to my first Northern Soul all-nighter just over a year ago, I have listened non-stop to hear as much Soul as I can. Lots of different types of music within Northern Soul means my taste is evolving and changing all the time – I liked the big tunes to start off with (Wigan Oldies) as they are called, and now I have a taste for the more underplayed obscure stuff. So its very difficult to just choose a small handful from thousands of stunning tunes, but here are some which have some significance in my love of Northern Soul and the different reasons why.

If this Is Love – The Precisions

This was probably one of the first tunes that I fell in love with when I first got into Northern Soul, it has a very typical northern sound, and its title has inspired the name of my YouTube channel, and a twist on my name (If this is Lev). Up there with one of the best intros of all time – when this record drops, you just want to run to the dance floor to catch the first beat of the record when it kicks in.

I’m Catching On – Betty Lloyd

Listening to it on my way to my first 100 Club all-nighter, the best and longest running all-nighter in the world. Every time I listen to it, it reminds me of coming into London and the excitement of going to my first basement all-nighter. It has that big city sound which suits that moment perfectly when you are arriving on Oxford Street to look out for the small sign out outside number 100.

Willie Dale – Let Your Light Shine

I heard it played at an all nighter and the intro pretty much stopped me dead. I was too in awe to even dance, just wanted to listen to it. This has a great gospel sound, and gospel seems really in at the moment on the Soul scene. I’ve heard that different sub-genres go in and out of favour on the scene, but gospel is definitely being played a lot with some really great DJs playing the sound. I love it, and spent a whole week just listening to gospel soul tracks on YouTube and got a real taste for it.

Parisians – Twinkle Little Star

This tune is massive at the moment – and again one of those gritty songs which is also in favour at the moment. Such a powerful tune for such a seemingly unpowerful title, but the greatness of the song totally works. At my last soul weekender they played this about 5 times over the weekend. Cant get away from the fact of how popular this is and how in demand it is. Its the song that shows how soulfully raw the music can get.

Tonight Is the Night – DJ Genesis

It’s uptempo, lighthearted and just makes you feet want to move. This remixed version of Betty Wright sounds as nice as the original, which I also love, particularly the live version because of her long spoken intro and I never tire of hearing her soothing voice. But this version for me is a great example of how diverse Northern Soul can be.

I’ve Got to Find Me Somebody – The Vel-Vets

The first song I danced to at my first all-nighter. The energy and enthusiasm in this song, makes it impossible to not dance to this record.

 

A massive thanks to Levanna for giving us an insight into her world. We’re loving the tracks that she’s chosen and we’ll definitely be on the prowl to find more of the same.

 

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