I grew up in Jamaica. Many people would associate it with reggae, but I would say that, culturally, Jamaica is quite a soundscape; there’s a lot of different music on the streets.

My mother is Irish. She moved to Jamaica in the seventies and a lot of the music we had on cassettes at home was stuff she had taped off the radio by Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Freddie McGregor.

Zahra Newman, dressed as Billie Holiday in a 40s white dress and flowers in her hearm smiles.

Zahra Newman in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Photo © Daniel Boud

When I got to 10, like many girls at the time, I was attracted to singers like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan. I think that’s what really drew me to singing, trying to imitate the sounds of these women with these big voices.

We moved to Australia when I was 14 or 15, and towards the end of high school, I realised that those women were inspired by jazz singers, so I started following the people who my idols followed....