Soul Searcher

Duffy's retro-pop sound matches her taste for vintage fashion.

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Charlotte Ronson’s silk minidress.

Photo By Trunk Archive -

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Music issue 09/04/2008
A pixie with a serious set of pipes, the Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy will put her feminine brand of soul into Friday’s fifth annual Fashion Rocks concert, to be held at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.

In her native Britain, Welsh-born singer Duffy is fast becoming known for bringing a soulful, retro sound loaded with impassioned, lovelorn lyrics to the country’s music scene.

When she released her Northern Soul-inflected single “Mercy” — a fusion of horns, strings and tinkling percussion — in February, that single and her subsequent album, “Rockferry,” shot to the top of the U.K.’s music charts. “Rockferry” later hit number four on the U.S. Billboard chart.

But unlike some of her fellow Brit chanteuses, she seems to have checked any accompanying diva antics and personal dramas at the door. She even takes the grueling pace of touring across Europe, the U.S. and the U.K. over the past few months in stride. “It’s kind of grounding, you know?” says the singer in her melodic Welsh lilt. “To be able to actually focus on the music five days a week is really refreshing and really important, it reminds me what all this is about.”

Not that it’s all work and no play on tour. “I like to have a glass of wine — the occasional sort of letting loose,” she says with a laugh. “[Or] a couple of pints of Guinness — if I can find Guinness — always does the job.”

During her recent U.S. tour, she clocked gigs at Lollapalooza and the All Points West festival in New Jersey, providing her with a whistle-stop tour of the country. “It was hard work because I’m not used to traveling eight hours from one place to another, but I got to see a lot of America,” she says. “I found the people in Philadelphia to be amazing. It was unbelievable, just totally having a great time, everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs, singing along.”

And appropriately for an artist who’s made an equally strong statement with her blonde, back-combed hair and monochrome duds, the singer will round off her U.S. tour experience by playing Fashion Rocks. Duffy won’t yet reveal which of her numbers she’ll unleash on the audience. “I’m doing one track, but we don’t know what we’re going to do yet, it’s not set in stone,“ she says.

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