Artists to Watch in 2017: Jorja Smith
Imagine having dreams of being a music superstar but you’re stuck behind a counter making overpriced coffee for the ungrateful masses. That’s not so outrageous, is it? Now, imagine you upload a little tune you made on to Soundcloud and within a week it has racked up over 100,000 plays and copped praise from the likes of Drake and Skrillex. Yeah, now we’re talking a fantasy world. But for 19-year-old JORJA SMITH, that was her 2016 and you better believe it’s real.
Smith, like an Aaliyah for millennials, is helping to bring smooth, soulful R&B back to relevance. The aforementioned single, ‘Blue Lights’, is an insightful look at the singer’s upbringing in the West Midlands of England. It’s a slow-burning journey through time as she details the mundanities of her youth – whether it be being late for school on a Monday or catching the number 4 bus back home. It’s the perfect tune for those relentless “bring back the 90s” try-hards of your Facebook feed, but still sounding like the future.
Having since left her job at Starbucks behind, Smith has had an absolutely manic 2016 and she is doing it all independently. Less than a year after posting ‘Blue Lights’ online, she has already managed to sell out her first ever UK headline tour. There are established bands that have been around for years that struggle to do that. She also had a run supporting NAO, who was one of our Artists to Watch for this year – and look at the success she went on to have. To cap it all off, Jorja Smith has been nominated – and is tipped to win – the BBC Sound of 2017 poll, of which past winners include Adele, Haim and Sam Smith. I don’t really need to go into how well their careers have all flourished.
Just do yourself a favour. Fill your bathtub, light a candle and make yourself a nice tea. Sink in while melting to Smith‘s stunning Imperfect Circle EP and you’ll find yourself transported to an entirely different world. Get used to it – it’ll be happening a lot over the next 12 months as Jorja Smith‘s star is going to shine brighter than ever.
Words by JACKSON LANGFORD