Kathy Diamond: Diva Stripes

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"Diva" is an overused and grotesque word. It conjures images of an incessantly expanding Mariah Carey, and lurid Ibiza enthusiasts ripe with passion for all things "glam." Quite frankly, it makes this writer slightly uncomfortable even typing it. Yet it's the most apt term for a female vocalist with as much soul as Kathy Diamond.

The London-based, Sheffield-raised disco funkstress has been crafting her dynamic vision since 1993, releasing vocal-house twelves on her own dime via white labels. But Diamond's dance potential has been elevated with her first long-player, composed by production powerhouse Maurice Fulton. "I met Maurice through my friend Nesreen [better known as Modal artist and fellow Fulton contributor Bibi]. She's a fine singer!" exclaims Diamond via email. "Nesreen told Maurice about me, he called, I started writing songs to a couple of his instrumentals, and that's how it started." The duo crafted the 2003 "Sunshine" single (on Cottage), which eventually segued into her first LP, Miss Diamond to You (Permanent Vacation).

Stirring together an amalgam of subtle slap-bass leads, cosmic synth waves, and vintage soul vocals, Diamond's debut long-player brims with a childhood spent listening to old soul and disco. "It was a very exciting moment in our house when my mum got The Best of Donna Summer. She fell out with her sister because it came under question who actually owned [the record]. My Aunty Mandy put her name on it and my mum lost the will to live," Diamond recalls. "It could have been an original disco-related death!"

Though her talent for writing soulful love songs was always evident, the desire to make glittery dancefloor gems didn't strike right away. "I've always been a bit of a drama queen but didn't get into making disco music until later on. I preferred dancing to it with my mum in the living room and dressing up," says Diamond. "But my love for real songs kept me writing, along with a couple of rubbish boyfriends, and some very inspiring late nights out!"

With tracks like "All Woman" and "I Need You Here Right Now," Diamond is at once dominating and vulnerable, sensual and innocent, which always makes for an interesting disco heater. "The perfect disco record for me has the backbone of a real song–it's hooky as fuck and has the biggest ass-whipping bassline you've ever heard!" Diamond asserts. "Maurice has delivered my favorite slap-bass ever. When it kicks in during 'All Woman,' I get a massive rush! I love it!"