Edinburgh pop sensation Bow Anderson recalls freak accident that set her on road to stardom

WITH Elton John and Cyndi Lauper as fans and more than 5.5 million streams of her debut single Sweater already to her credit, Joppa singing sensation Bow Anderson is on the brink of the big time.
Edinburgh pop sensation Bow AndersonEdinburgh pop sensation Bow Anderson
Edinburgh pop sensation Bow Anderson

The 24-year-old, who has just released her third single, Island, and now boasts a global record deal with EMI, is in good form when she recalls how it was a freak accident as a teenager that set her on the path to pop stardom.

A pupil at Parsons Green Primary and Portobello High School, Bow admits she was never particularly academic as a child, instead putting all her energy into dancing and gymnastics.

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“I enjoyed the social side of school,” she says, “I chatted with everyone and anyone but I struggled at school because I’m dyslexic and didn’t find out until I was 15. That could be frustrating but not necessarily a bad thing,” she continues. "A lot of creative people are dyslexic. There was a sense of relief when it was diagnosed because although I got learning support a couple of times a year, I think teachers just thought I was lazy or not making the effort when, actually, I was really struggling.”

As a result, she threw herself into the physical side of life. “I guess that’s why, from a kid, I did swimming and sports and summer school activities.”

Bow started dance classes at the age of four, “Me and my cousin would put on little dance performances for the family, then get a hat and go round at the end and ask for money which we split between us,” she laughs.

At secondary, her focus began to drift from dance to gymnastics after she was spotted by a Team GB coach.

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“It started off as a hobby, then I did a couple of gymnastic competitions at Meadowbank Stadium. This coach came along and asked if I wanted to join the club and then, as time went on, it became more and more serious. I was training more, I was competing more, and then I joined the squad. Just before the injury, I was heading towards a place on the Team GB.”

Bow Anderson aged 13Bow Anderson aged 13
Bow Anderson aged 13

Entering the world of competitive trampolining, the freak accident at the age of just 13 put a halt to Bow’s dreams of competing at the National Championships. “I didn’t even fall off the trampoline,” she says, explaining, “I have hyper-extension in my legs, basically they are more straight than the average leg, and I was doing a pretty basic move one day when my leg dislocated and then popped back into place. But it popped back in with such force that it broke below my knee and, because it was a clean break, it severed my artery.

“When the ambulance came, they thought I’d just broke my leg but by then I couldn’t feel my toes. From the outside you wouldn’t know but I was bleeding internally and my leg just started swelling up. By the time I got to hospital, I knew something was wrong but they kept saying everything would be okay. Then they asked my dad to sign a form agreeing that if in the following 48 hours the injury didn’t react the way they hoped, they could amputate my leg. I wasn’t told, thank god.”

Just before the accident, Bow had been attending Keith Jack’s Gie It Laldy performance academy where her signing coach, Chris Judge, had helped her “come out of her shell”. Following the accident, that coaching paid off as singing helped her through the following months.

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“In recovery, I got nerve pain, I called it my tingly toe, constant pins and needles in my foot that drove me insane. In the early hours of the morning my dad would come down and sing with me - it was the only way to distract me from the pain. He says that was when he realised I had a talent that was more than just singing for the fun of singing.”

Singer Bow Anderson aged 13, training for Team GBSinger Bow Anderson aged 13, training for Team GB
Singer Bow Anderson aged 13, training for Team GB

On leaving school, Bow took a year out before heading to London where she studied at the BIMM Institute, the music school that produced the likes of James Bay and George Ezra. “There I met everybody I possibly could, small imprint labels, publishers, music lawyers, and that helped me form a team around me of people who understood what I wanted to do as an artist,” she recalls.

Describing her sound, Bow says, “Beyonce was a massive influence. When I was learning to sing I would always choose her songs and try to copy her. I also listened to the soul musical Dreamgirls, with Jennifer Hudson, a lot. That was my introduction to Motown which I then fell in love with, consequently I call my own music soul pop; 60’s soul with some hip-hop influences to make it more modern, creating something that is a bit more fresh.”

And the new single, she reflects, is the culmination of a four year journey, one that has been noticed by two pop icons.

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“Cyndi Lauper said she was a big fan and wrote in an article, ‘What a voice’,” she beams, clearly chuffed, “And someone tagged me into a post with Elton John on Instagram, in it he gave me a cool introduction and played me on his radio show... I had to check it was really his voice. It was just insane.”

Bow Anderson’s new single Island is available to stream and download now

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'Island' confirms Bow Ande

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