Yola: “It's unfortunate that patriarchy plays a big role in the story of guitar playing. But the guitar, to me, means freedom”

(Image credit: Dire Image / Chelsea Thompson)

“It’s been a long journey and a late start, but I feel as though my journey towards guitar had been guided by Sister Rosetta Tharpe from much earlier on,” explains British-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Yola, halfway through a conversation with Guitar World on her career to date. “And now I’ve been cast to play her in the Baz Luhrmann Elvis movie…”

Before her triple Grammy-nominated solo debut, titled Walk Through Fire and released in 2019, Yola – who also landed a Grammy nod for Best New Artist in 2020 –had lent her rich soulful vocal to projects like Massive Attack, Bugz In The Attic and Sub Focus. This year’s second album, Stand For Myself, sees her once again working with producer/co-writer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) – the partnership yielding some truly magnificent results. 

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).