JORJA SMITH @ HOWARD THEATRE
With Ama Lou
Songbyrd and Union Stage Present
DOORS: 6:00 PM // SHOW: 7:30 PM
MOVED TO HOWARD THEATRE!
Songbyrd and Union Stage Present @ Howard Theatre
Sunday May 13, 2018
It all started in January 2016, when Jorja Smith uploaded “Blue Lights” to Soundcloud, her self-released debut single. Since the age of 16, she’d been
writing stories through music. Stories of observation, love, and anger. The stories that are unfolding around us all everyday, but that most of us
are too distracted to notice. “Blue Lights” was one of those.
Written after watching Dizzee Rascal music videos while taking a break from her A-Level dissertation (titled: “Is Postcolonialism Still Present in Grime Music”) the song was inspired by the hostile situations innocent young black men were facing every day, not just in her local town of Walsall but around the world. The song blew up, earning the praise of Skrillex and Stormzy, before it was eventually included on Drake’s OVO radio show.
Since then, Jorja has gone on to create a name for herself as a gifted young R&B songwriter with a masterful knack for crafting melodies that make you feel like you could be anywhere from a smoky Parisian jazz club to a North London warehouse party. Her debut EP, Project 11, was a flowing collection of songs knitted together by the soulful elasticity of her voice.
Earlier this year, she came fourth in BBC’s Sound of 2017, and has already been nominated for a MOBO. And while most teenagers in London are spending their commutes to work listening to Drake, Jorja’s in there collaborating with the Toronto megastar on “Get It Together”, featuring on his More Life project, and performing as a special guest at his UK headline shows. All this for a girl who’s only just turned 20, and hasn’t even released her debut album.
Jorja grew up in the industrial West Midlands town of Walsall. Both of her parents were musical, and BBC Radio 1Xtra was constantly playing in the kitchen, blasting out bassline classics like T2’s “Heartbroken” as she did her homework. Little did she know that ten years later she’d be performing live on the station, as the special live performer for Trevor Nelson’s last ever ‘Live Lounge’.
Encouraged by her parents, she started playing keyboard at the age of 8, and was learning to sing classical by secondary school. It’s something that still influences her now, and you can hear it in the vast range of her voice or in certain moments like the choral opening harmonies of “Something in the Way”.
Her mother was a jewellery maker, and her father – who is of Jamaican-origin – was a singer and songwriter in the neo-soul band 2nd Naicha. When she first finished a demo of “Blue Lights” she ran downstairs and played it to him. “Good song, good lyrics,” he said, “Now, go to bed.”
Ama Lou is the voice of a new generation. Authentic, natural, soulful, the young singer has gracefully established herself as a rising star to watch with just a handful of songs. Born and raised in London and classically trained as a musician, she’s been writing music since the age of 11 and made her introduction at 18 with “TBC” in 2016. The debut song was followed by a consistently eclectic palette of music delivered with honesty, purpose and a lyrical capability well beyond her years. Drawing passionate and unforgivably authentic detail from classic gangster films to social activism, Ama Lou is already an icon in the making.