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‘Untitled’: Terri Walker’s Breakthrough Debut Album

The record garnered the singer four MOBO nominations.

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Terri Walker Untitled album cover
Cover: Courtesy of Mercury Records

Among the huge soul and R&B talent to come out of the UK, Terri Walker – whose debut album Untitled was released in 2003 – is one of the country’s finest. Emerging alongside British R&B artists like Ms. Dynamite, Estelle, and Keisha White, Walker stood out with her vivacious personality and punchy, jazz-inflected vocals.

Born Chanelle Walker in London, she moved to Germany as a child to live with her mother and German stepfather, at which point she became Chanelle Gstettenbauer. (She flexes her fluent German on the Untitled interlude “Deutschland.”) She went to boarding school in the UK, studying opera and training briefly at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. However, Walker was more inclined to follow in the footsteps of British soul divas Mica Paris and Beverley Knight.

Terri Walker’s Untitled is available on vinyl via the Black Story initiative. Order it now.

As she stepped into the industry, she rebranded herself “Terri Walker,” and lent her vocals to various UK garage tracks. After shopping demos around of her own music, she eventually signed to Def Soul UK. In March 2003, her debut album was released. The record, Untitled, is a statement of purpose. “I ain’t that stupid love fool,” Walker spits on the opening track “Love Fool,” setting the tone with honest, straight-talking R&B. Bringing together seasoned industry professionals like producer/songwriter Warryn Campbell (Mary Mary, Alicia Keys, Brandy) and bassist Pino Palladino (Elton John, D’Angelo, Jeff Beck), the album marries slick R&B grooves with jazzy flourishes, anchored by Walker’s charisma and attitude. She collaborates with rapper Mos Def on snappy rebuke “Guess You Didn’t Love Me” and shows her softer side on puppy love ditty “Ching Ching (Lovin’ You Still)” – which peaked at #38 on the UK charts, her highest entry.

Guess You Didn't Love Me

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Walker’s signature track and the album’s high point is “Drawing Board,” a shrugging anthem of indifference in the face of romantic disappointment. Ballads like the sensual duet “What Will I Do” and “Love You For Life” also widen the emotional range of the album and demonstrate Walker’s capacity for soul-baring vulnerability. She has a wail of a time on “Dirty Weekend,” ad-libbing over the brassy outro.

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Despite its assured sound, Walker once told journalist Sope Soetan that she called the album Untitled because she was still finding herself. Nonetheless, the record garnered Walker four Music of Black Origin (MOBO) nominations and ushered in a cult following. She would follow with four studio albums, collaborate with producer Salaam Remi on the side-project Champagne Flutes, and record an album as part of the duo Lady with Nicole Wray. Nodding to the sense of uncertainty she felt when recording Untitled, Walker named her fourth album Entitled – reflecting her ultimate sense of belonging in the industry.

Terri Walker’s Untitled is available on vinyl via the Black Story initiative. Order it now.

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