Published May 16, 2018Jorja Smith is a star in the making, if she isn't already one. With her debut album, Lost & Found, out June 8 on via The Orchard, the UK artist spoke with Exclaim! about her experience being in the limelight thus far.
The classically trained singer-songwriter has been catching attention for her intensely smooth take on R&B and soul music and has already amassed an impressive resume, from her millions-plus SoundCloud, Apple Music and Spotify streaming plays and her appearance on rapper Drake's More Life album, along with collaborations with names such as Stormzy, Kali Uchis, Preditah and popping up on the Black Panther soundtrack.
From the strength of singles "Blue Lights," "Teenage Fantasy," "Where Did I Go?" and a successful North American tour, Smith intends to be in the mainstream music conversation this year and beyond.
With the new Lost & Found LP on the way, here are five noteworthy facts you might not have known about UK singer.
1. She's entirely grateful for getting a co-sign from Drake — and getting the opportunity to appear twice on his 2017 More Life LP with tracks "Jorja's Interlude" and "Get It Together" — but makes it clear that she's her own woman.
"I'm so grateful, 'cause it could have gone two ways — his fans could have hated me, like, "Who is this?" but they really liked me. I'm just very grateful. Without More Life, who knows, but I was able to be tapped into this different audience, which I wasn't in. But yeah, I'm not just the girl from Drake's album."
2. She was working at Starbucks as a barista before she released debut single "Blue Lights" at the age of 18. She would record lyrics into her phone on her breaks.
"I left Starbucks in 2015. When I was younger, I remember looking at Justin Bieber and wishing I had all these fans, but you know what? Everyone has their path, everyone's path is different and this is where mine's going. I just didn't want to work at Starbucks. I wanted to be writing music all the time."
3. Her upcoming debut, Lost & Found, took three years to create.
"It was never like, 'Okay, I'm going to take three years to create an album.' I just write songs. As much as I love plans and stuff, when it comes to music — same as how I do my EP — they just happened. I made them, and then I was like, 'I want to put out an EP,' 'Oh, these songs will go well together, so I'm going to put them together.' That's what happened with the album, it just came to a point where I thought, 'I think this year is a good year to put out an album, because people are watching me.'"
4. Despite impending fame, her family keep her grounded and her ego in check.
"My dad will always criticize me. He doesn't care if it hurts my feelings. If I start acting a certain way, he would be like, 'Who do you think you are?' So many people can tell me, 'You're amazing,' but I don't think it. I'm really hard on myself."
5. The 20-year-old wants to be a role model for young women.
"For me, it's about touching as many people as I can, and helping as many people as I can with my music. It's about making people feel, learn something and think twice about something (hurtful) they might have said to someone. You know? I make music because it helps me. I feel better after I've written a song. I listen to my own songs and they make me feel and think about stuff I'd done or someone said to me and I feel a bit better."