The slick soulful serenading musician Ella Rosa has covered the iconic Sting song “Englishman in New York” and it is exactly what you need to listen to walking down Fifth Avenue, smoking a cigarette, and getting yelled at by New Yorkers. It will leave you smiling and bopping all the way uptown, no matter what obstacles may arise. The song has so much history, the New York streets have so much history, and Rosa is adding herself into the mix. Rosa makes everything her own. She was inspired by the jazz components in the original song and playing with that she heavily incorporates her own idea of jazz, making the tune a sax-filled, R&B-inspired groove.
Rosa was born and raised in the countryside of England but moved to the Upper East Side of New York in her teen years. She brings a fresh unique perspective to “Englishman in New York.” She produces a sleek, vulnerable aspect to the song, making it feel less like an Englishman and more like an Englishwoman.
Rosa is one to watch. She is a classically trained opera singer turned cool wave jazzy cat. We got to talk to the stylish singer-songwriter about moving to New York, what drew her to music, and working on “Englishman in New York.”
What about the original song inspired you to cover it?
When I was really young and I first moved to New York, I used to listen to this song a lot as it made me feel not so alone when I first moved. I love the jazz element of the song — it reminded me of the jazz clubs that I started going to in New York when I started to love it there.
How does it feel to be an Englishwoman in New York?
When I used to live there, I won’t lie, I was really homesick for the first two years, but once I got used to it, I realized that there were a lot of opportunities and fun things I could do there. Once I started studying opera heavily in New York, I realized I had a whole different world that I hadn’t explored yet.
How would you describe the smorgasbord of things that brought you to become a musician?
A smorgasbord indeed. I feel kind of privileged to be able to have experienced all aspects of music from opera to R&B. It’s funny because I used to get really frustrated with how slow things are moving, but I realize that those points of my career that I would get impatient with well actually paying me one step closer to where I am now.
What is your favorite thing about making music?
It’s really the only thing that puts me in completely in the zone and makes me forget about all the bullshit and everything that makes me sad. Sad girl shit.