London-born, Labi decided, aged 13, to be a jazz singer. At 16, he began teaching himself blues then jazz guitar. He wrote his first songs when he was 18 & followed Ray Davis from The Kinks as the guitarist with Hamilton King’s Blues Messengers.
In the mid 1960s, he held a residency in a London jazz club hosted by the singer Annie Ross. He later spent several months gigging in Amsterdam where he discovered he could hold an audience solo with his own songs. His first album, Labi Siffre, was released in 1970. His chart hits include It Must Be Love (later a hit for Madness), Crying Laughing Loving Lying, Watch Me & Something Inside So Strong.
His music has been sampled by Eminem, Dr Dre, Wu-Tang Clan and Kanye West. So far, Labi has recorded seven albums, written three books of poetry: Nigger, Blood On The Page & Monument and a one-act play - Deathwrite, which was both staged & televised.