“It almost feels like going into a trance when I sing,” says 28-year-old British rocker Anna Calvi of performing her haunted, atmospheric brand of seductive pop-rock-soul. Calvi’s voice is a powerful one, by turns thick and velvety, and thunderous and operatic, and her command of it all the more remarkable considering that for the first 23 years of her life, Calvi didn’t see herself as a singer at all. “I always wanted to sing, but I didn’t feel I had the right personality for it,” she says. “But I just practiced for hours and hours every day and listened to singers like Nina Simone and Édith Piaf. Slowly, I developed my voice.” Growing up in Southwest London, Calvi liked to explore her parents’ vast record collection, which included Italian music and classical composers such as Ravel and Debussy. She began taking violin lessons when she was 6 and began her own musical journey, dis- covering along the way the theatricality of David Bowie and the musicianship of Django Reinhardt, as well as the emotional depth of singers like Simone and Piaf. Her debut album, Anna Calvi (Domino), was released ear- lier this year, and features a cinematic scope befitting those aforementioned influences, as well as others, like Brian Eno, who appears on two tracks. “I see my songs very visually, so it was important for me that the music told the story of the song as much as the lyrics did,” she says. “There is a sense of danger to the record, but also of hope,” says Calvi, who will launch her first U.S. tour as a headliner this summer. “When I’m on stage, it brings out another side of me. But it’s so much me—it’s not like a persona.”
Photo: Anna Calvi at the Jane Hotel in New York, March 2011. Jumpsuit and Belt: Gucci. Cuffs and Ring: Eddie Borgo. Shoes: Tabitha Simmons. Hair Products: Bumble and Bumble Straight. Styling: Vanessa Chow/Creative Exchange Agency. Hair: Rolando Beauchamp for Bumble and Bumble/Community NYC. Makeup: Francelle for Nars Cosmetics/Art + Commerce. Manicure: Jackie Saulsbery for Nars/De Facto Inc. using Nars Body Smoother and Nars Top Coat Polish.