Zara McFarlane

Zara McFarlane is a British jazz/soul singer and songwriter, based in East London. In October 2014, McFarlane was awarded the title of "Best Jazz Act" at the MOBO Awards. She has had three albums released by Brownswood Recordings.

Early life

Zara McFarlane was born in London and grew up on the borders of east London and Essex. She was born to parents of Jamaican heritage, which has had a big influence on her musical tastes. She studied musical theatre at the BRIT School, then went on to the London College of Music to study Popular Music Performance and completed a master's degree in jazz studies (vocals) at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

McFarlane came up through Tomorrow's Warriors, where she met many of the musicians she performs and collaborates with today.

Later life and career

McFarlane's debut album, Until Tomorrow, was released by Brownswood Recordings in 2011. Her second album, If You Knew Her, was released in 2014, also by Brownswood. She accompanied herself on guitar on "You'll Get Me in Trouble". The New York Times reviewer of the album commented that "its identity derives from Ms. McFarlane's clear, elegant voice, and the musicians' training and influences". Her next album, Arise, was released by the same label in 2017. She has collaborated with Denys Baptiste, Orphy Robinson, Soweto Kinch and Jazz Jamaica.

McFarlane's "If You Knew Her" tour in 2014 was praised by John Fordham in The Guardian, describing her as having "magnetic eloquence". She has made television appearances on programmes around Europe, including Later... with Jools Holland (BBC Two), Un Lugar Llamado Mundo and the live broadcast of Victoires du Jazz. She has also made radio appearances worldwide, with her most notable appearances on Jamie Cullum's show on BBC Radio 2, NTS Radio and TSF Jazz.


As leader

  • Until Tomorrow (Brownswood, 2011)
  • If You Knew Her (Brownswood, 2014)
  • Arise (Brownswood, 2017)

    As guest

  • Brownswood Bubblers Seven, Gilles Peterson (Brownswood, 2011)
  • Christmas Soul, Barbara Dennerlein and Magnus Lindgren (MPS, 2015)