Noel McKoy

Noel is a genuine godfather of British Soul and has cited his influences as everyone from The Beatles, Dennis Brown, Chaka Khan, to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela…

He made his debut back in the late 1980’s at the start of the acid Jazz explosion. Polydor Records had just signed the James Taylor Quartet and Taylor himself was looking to augment his instrumental combo with a vocalist who’d allow the band to record some genuine jazz funk classics.

McKoy attended an audition at Polydor’s Hammersmith offices, sat down at piano andblew the assembled A&R team away. 18 months later and Noel’s accomplished vocals had delivered 2 chart hits for the JTQ, most noticeably ‘Love The Life’, a blend of up-front disco and proto soulful house that captured the essence of 1989.

A lengthy period as Taylor’s frontman took in several world tours and numerous TV appearances as the band rode the acid jazz zeitgeist. Noel later left the JTQ whilst at their peak and formed a group with members of his family simply called McKoy. The band recorded a critically acclaimed debut album, called ‘Family’ and delivered a number of street-soul classics on his own label.

A career at the front line of the British soul scene followed. Duets with Mica Paris, Juliette Roberts, Beverly Knight and Vanessa Simon have been interspersed with projects with the likes of Nu Colours, Snowboy, Omar and The Sounds Of Blackness.

For his debut solo album ‘Brighter Day’, released on soul label Tri-Sound in 2009, Noel draws on a host of influences and weaves an impressive collection of soul, gospel, funk and northern soul into a cohesive masterpiece with Production duties undertaken by, amongst others, pop-soul legend Ian Levine and Incognito‘s Bluey Maunick.

That same year, Noel’s appearance at our third Summer Soulstice with Beggar & Co (The Original Light Of The World) helped make up the magic of that June day, with a superb vocal performance alongside Ingrid Mansfield Allman and Glen Goldsmith.

More recently he has been a part of The British Collective collaboration with Junior Giscombe, Omar, Don-E and Imagination’s Leee John, an iconic project that has brought together seasoned artists, musicians and performers who continue to carry forward the torches they lit several decades ago. 

Noel on the main stage of Summer Soulstice 2009 performing with Beggar & Co (The Original LOTW) line-up.
Photo by Paul Welch © Summer Soulstice Ltd.

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