Growing up in North London, Michael Kiwanuka struggled at times to see where he fitted in. Like most of his schoolmates, he liked bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, Offspring and Blur, but it was only when he discovered that Jimi Hendrix was black that he understood he had a place playing rock guitar.
In his teens, two other icons helped him find his voice. A friend gave him a Bob Dylan box set, and Michael was bowled over by the power of a well-crafted song, delivered with just urgent vocals and an acoustic guitar.
He played in rock bands at school, and when he was 16 went east to Hackney in search of other musicians to work with. He began hanging out Labrinth at his studio, and eventually began writing his own songs quietly at home, just for fun.
Eventually, he recorded demos of a few songs, hoping to give them to others to perform. But he was surprised to find that people loved his voice, and began encouraging him to play small shows. And finally, he found his place in the world.