MOBO-AWARD winning saxophonist Tottenham YolanDa Brown has been awarded an honorary doctorate for her contribution to music.

The soulful jazz musician, who lives in Tottenham and runs Black Grape Live, in West Green Road, gave up an academic career to pursue her passion as an independent artist and has been mooted as one to watch on the music scene.

She collected her Doctorate of Arts from the University of East London at a graudation ceremony at the Barbican Centre after impressing the chancellor with her sparkling list of musical achievements.

YolanDa, a first-class graduate with a Masters in Management Science, said: "It was quite nerve-wracking, actually. They read your biography and the chancellor has to decide whether you deserve the doctorate or not. Fortunately, he liked what he heard and I was given it. It is the first academic award I've got for music since my GCSE."

The 28-year-old's fusion of hip hop, gospel and contemporary R&B helped her win the Best Jazz category at the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) Awards in 2008 and 2009 and she has peformed at the London Jazz Festival and for the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in St Petersburg.

She said: "I started playing the piano at the age of 7 and have been through quite a few musical instruments since then, but I just fell in love with the sax and it's stuck. When I play it, it's like my own voice.

"I do one or two covers but I compose my own music. I hope people do consider me a role model and I like to think I bring something new to the table. Of course, the sax has its base in jazz but I like to call my style soulful jazz."

Her debut album is to be released later this year.