With his dreadlocks, goatee beard, and Rasta hat, neo-soul singer/songwriter JP Cooper looked a bit like a white version of Bob Marley, a resemblance his label Island Records (with whom Marley had spent most of his career) surely did nothing to discourage. John Paul Cooper was born and brought up in Manchester in the north of England. Initially a keen sportsman, he switched to music in his teens after falling in love with grunge, teaching himself to play guitar, and forming a rock band while still at school. Later he discovered soul music via artists like Donny Hathaway and Ben Harper, and explored this style by joining a gospel choir. Working in a bar, he started to write his own songs, romantic in tone, with powerful emotional and social lyrical content. He began his recording career in 2012 with a trilogy of numbered, self-released EPs.
Recorded acoustically with a backing band, the EPs showcased his smooth, soulful, versatile voice and fingerpicked guitar skills, and often featured gorgeous arrangements for strings and piano. They sold well, and he built a fan base through steady touring. His career got a boost when he was tipped as one to watch by the U.K.'s influential MOBO (Music of Black Origin) organization and was offered the chance to perform with Angie Stone, Mica Paris, and Omar. In mid-2014 he signed to Island Records; his debut EP for the label, Keep the Quiet Out, was released in July of that year and saw him moving toward a more electronic sound. The EP When the Darkness Comes followed in 2015, and his debut full-length album, We Were Raised Under Grey Skies, in 2016, preceded by the single "September Song." ~ John D. Buchanan
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