Zalon Thompson was a backing singer for the late Amy Winehouse and she signed him as an artist in his own right to her Lioness label as well as encouraging him to perform his solo work during her live sets.
Zalon now releases a tribute single in memory of Amy – titled ‘You Let Me Breathe’ - the profits of which will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. He has also created a video for the track, which contains behind the scenes footage never seen before by Amy’s fans.
I caught up with Zalon to find out the full story behind this project.
WSI: What was it like to work with Amy?
Zalon: It was one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life. I was lucky enough to be there before the success, and watch and be apart of it when it exploded to the world. She taught me to capture my truth with my music. Before working with her I was trying to make music to impress people, but since recording my album I have been recording through 'Feelings and not by thoughts' now so many people have gravitated towards my music, and I've received so many messages of people crying when watching 'You Let Me Breathe', which is about Amy. It really is amazing, Amy was right, the truth really does connect.
WSI: Tell us about the video and the behind the scenes footage?
Zalon: To be honest I put the song out on a whim, I recorded it a day after she passed away but I wasn't strong enough for anyone to hear it, then a year later my friend encouraged me to put it out for her birthday and it received an overwhelming response. I knew it was only right to donate the proceeds to the Amy Winehouse Foundation as they've been doing such an amazing job. In regards to the footage, many people may not be aware but Amy had two bands, a US and a Uk band and I was fortunate enough to be part of both and go everywhere with her, and the video is a collection of footage and pictures showing our journey, our life on the road and our story of how it was from the beginning to the 5 Grammy win with many celebrity friends along the way (Jay Z, Beyonce, Jack White, Pattie Labelle, Chaka Khan and many more)
WSI: Any secrets you can share about Amy?
Zalon: She was excellent at pool; at one point we took a pool table on tour with us which was really cool, she was better than me, although I'd never tell her, because I always had to give the big talk, but that's because I am the best pool player in the world (laughs)
WSI: What else are you up to?
Zalon: I have an EP out the end of this year on my birthday (December 1st) with a live show which will lead up to my album. The last show I put on I hit capacity within 30 minutes and hundreds were turned away at the door, but this show will be even more special now that I will be performing the charity single 'You Let Me Breathe'. Hopefully I'll be able to continue with the baton Amy left to keep the legacy alive.
WSI: You've also worked with Dionne Bromfield? Was Lioness Records one big musical family?
Zalon: Yeah definitely, it's amazing to see Dionne grow into the artist she is today. We dueted on a song called 'Aint No Mountain' a cover of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's hit. It was A listed on Radio 2 which was incredible as we were up against many huge acts leading up to Xmas, we were definitely very proud of that.
WSI: Is your father (Rastafarian artist Dr. Alimantado) still making music? Any plans for a duet?
Zalon: Yeah his last album was called 'House Of Singles' which is a collection of his earlier recordings. He's a huge inspiration of mine so we are always sharing music, so watch this space.
To download the single 'You Let Me Breathe' by Zalon Thompson and donate to the Amy Winehouse Foundation go to: www.7digital.com/artist/zalon/release/you-let-me-breathe