Back in 2013 Eska Mtungwazi had just finished pouring 15 years of musical experience into her debut solo album, when she discovered she was pregnant.

It was a shock for the first-generation Zimbabwean who thought she couldn't have children and even more so when her baby arrived prematurely after just 26 weeks.

Today as we chat about her record ESKA being nominated for a Mercury and her upcoming headline show in Islington I can hear her daughter Wonder playing happily in the background.

"It’s funny," laughs the Peckham Rye singer, "you shape life as it comes to you. I’m just trying to embrace what comes to me on a daily basis and enjoy it."

Eska celebrated her Mercury news, which has saw her Spotfiy plays go up by 3,000 per cent in three days, by 'changing a nappy and going for a walk in the park' and says: "I think there’s a really wonderful sobriety that comes with being a parent, it grounds you.

"She is the benchmark for me now, her success is the mark of my success. My work is getting a lot of attention and that is great and I’m thankful for it but that isn’t the real world."

Brought to London from Zimbawe as a toddler Eska grew up listening to her dad's eclectic vinyl collection with her brother and sister.

"It could be jazz one minute, funk the next and then something poptastic. He really opened our ears and hearts to music being good or bad and not genre driven.

"And that was echoed at Prendergast School in south London by a wonderful woman called Barbara Karelis. I was very fortunate that my music education reinforced this idea of music without borders and not to be beholden by culture or anything else."

The 44-year-old began writing songs aged 12 and they were performed at her local church and she earned a scholarship to the Conservatoire.

"It was always exciting to see my song come to life with someone else’s voice, " explains Eska who went on to spend 15 'glorious years' collaborating with artists such as Grace Jones, Nitin Sawhney, Bobby McFerrin and Courtney Pine.

In 2007 she finally felt it was time to begin spreading her wings and so formed a band and started gigging in London and landed herself on 'hotly tipped' list.

"But I felt nowhere near ready to do a record, " she explains, "I didn’t know who I was and was still searching. It has been a long road and has taken time to find my feet."

She decided the only way to find her voice was to stop collaborating so she found work as a teacher in South London, set up label Earthling Records from her kitchen and released EP Gatekeeper in 2013.

"It was really difficult to know how to present myself as a new artist as I had been collaborating for 15 years. I felt there would be an assumption that ‘ESKA must make this kind of music as she has collaborated with these kinds of people’ and I was concerned in the way the album would be overshadowed by my previously collaborations."

She invested £20,000 of her own money into the album which features pieces of all the eclectic music she grew up with.

"To make it authentic and literally bring it to life and that was really important to me. I was inspired by listening to great records of the 60s and 70s and the way people were recording everything all at the same time in the live room, so we did that as well and recorded in real time and kept just the best take instead of chopping it and splicing and taking all the humanity out of it. We tried to keep it as organic as possible."

The north London studio where it was recorded, Fish Factory in Dollis Hill, also played an important role.

"It is a musician’s paradise with so many instruments, keyboards, vibraphone, it’s a grotto of analogue gear. And that was probably just as influential on the sound of the record.

"I didn’t set out thinking I needed vibraphone on it,” she laughs, “but it was just sat there in the corner so I had to play it."

Eska had planned to release it last September but then Wonder arrived and she spent months by her hosptial bedside willing her to live.

"It’s definitely been the toughest year of my life without a doubt in terms of my sanity being touched. I was really on the edge, hoping and praying every day for this human being to survive."

Thankfully Wonder pulled through and Eska teamed up with Simon Drake from Naim Label to release the album and has been taking her daughter out on tour across Europe and the UK, arriving in Islington this month.

"For me it feels like a homecoming celebration of an incredible year, " says Eska who is also writing material for Grace Jones' new album.

She adds: "I took my time and probably out stayed my welcome with the whole collaboration thing but better late than never, although I don’t feel it’s late, somehow it feels quite right.

"I’m here today with my daughter and it feels right for the person I am and the artist I am.

"It’s not really about the music or sound that I have found, it’s that I have found my authentic self."

Islington Assembly Hall, Upper Street, Islington, Friday, November 27, 7pm. Details: