She issued her debut, self-titled album in the Spring, and the critically acclaimed work recently made it into the shortlist for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize.

Zimbabwe-born, London-raised musician and songwriter Eska took five years to make the album, but it was time well spent.

Elsewhere, her voice can be hears on releases by Nitin Sawhney, Courtney Pine and Tony Allen, and she has earned comparisons with Joni Mitchell.

She's a bit special, is Eska.

But what about the songs that stand out to her, the on-stage successes and the dates she remembers for the worst reasons?

Ahead of her show at The Stables in Wavendon this week, Eska went On Track with Total MK...

The song that first awakened your musical senses

I remember feeling a little strange when Games Without Frontiers (by Peter Gabriel) would come on the radio.  I loved the melody and the adventurous production.  I had no idea what Peter was singing about but his delivery had such engaging conviction. 

Physical or digital - how do you take your music?


The first time you thought 'Music - this is the job for me'

 Never thought of music as a 'job'. 

Your best on stage memory...

It was a significant rite of passage, having a vocal meltdown whilst trying to sing a solo in a jazz oratorio at school.

I must have been around 14 years old.  My body and voice shook like a leaf throughout my performance. 

I remember vividly the warm faces of my parents in the audience, my choir teacher conducting with such an encouraging face and not one smirk from my choir colleagues. 

I was really proud to get through it.  That night only affirmed my love of music and performance.

And the worst gig you've ever done

A vodka company decided to sponsor a book reading night. 

This night not only incorporated free-flowing shots but also a live twitter feed projected behind the performers. 

Suffice to say, people were fairly hammered even before performances began and the projected twitter feed was predictably used to mercilessly lampoon performers in real time, behind their back.  I managed around four lines of my first song before walking off - nobody was listening.

What made you take up singing

I love songwriting​, so it felt like the most natural thing in the world to sing them myself​. I've also loved singing in ensembles since childhood.

Which one song by another artist do you wish you had written

 I hear something every other day that I wish I'd written.  Most recently, Noura Mint Seymali - Eguetmar.  Crank that one up!

And one - by yourself  - which holds special significance

 Dear Evelyn because it feels complete even without the topline.

If you could step into the shoes of another musician, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

My purpose on this planet is to be me.  I really have no desire to be anyone else.  

Are there any current musical influences that you might look to

A current fascination is the world of modular synths, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop etc

And any genre of music that you simply can't stand?

I'll take a rain-check on screamo.​

Finally, plug the debut album, and tell us what the Mercury nomination (congratulations!) meant to you

Thank you!  ​I finally managed to bring some definition to myself as an artist​. 

'ESKA' is self-titled, for this reason. 

A Mercury nomination feels like an acknowledgement of that achievement.  

Eska plays The Stables on Thursday (Nov 26). To book tickets visit or call 01908 280800.