A young girl in a big city to the R&B queen of today, Jorja Smith has come a long way in less than five years of her journey, having worked with the likes of Drake, Stormzy and Khalid, and has a lot more to come. Smith arrived in London from a village in the West Midlands - with set goals and an exceptional zeal for the craft of music. Widely admired as a young artist with an old soul, the 21-year-old, from the very beginning (which was not too long ago), has had a deep sense of purpose and a knowing for where she is headed. Her “artistically political” debut single “Blue Lights”, became a sensation in 2016, that unintentionally tapped into the BLM campaign and successfully resonated with millions of people worldwide.
Taking a full circle, Jorja made an effort at delivering a musical protest, again in support of the Black community through her single “By Any Means”, dropped earlier this year. The release of her first EP instantly put Jorja on Drake’s radar, post which they went on a tour in 2017 and furthermore, collaborated on ‘Get it Together’ for his More Life mixtape. A lesser known fact is that Jorja was initially reluctant to join hands with Drizzy as a result of a lack of connection that she felt with the song, but (luckily for us) it worked out as well as it did. Slanderous gossips and rumours revolved around their collaboration for a great deal of time, significantly taking away from her art, but Smith has been nothing but unstoppable with her talent.
Refusing to care for genre conformity, she states that her music is genre less and is meant for people to stop and think. Her much awaited independent album, “Lost and Found” introduced the singer as a solo artist, highlighting relationships, painful youth and inequalities with her catchy pop music.
R&B being an avenue for capturing emotional and vulnerable relatability through sounds, Smith carried forward the legacy by her eccentric voice and mood shifts that only she has the ability to pull off.
Her smooth, husky and distinctive voice has a whole separate fan base, making her tracks all the more pleasing, placing each of them on top. Despite the singularity and one-of-a-kind nature of her voice, Smith admits to drawing inspiration from overtly expressive and insightful artists - Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and Mos Def, in terms of their shared notes and undertones. Smith grew up grooving to the tunes of late Winehouse and personally feeling the strong lyrics, setting a base for her own melodies. Likewise, a subtle influence of Jorja’s female contemporaries, particularly women of colour (being one herself), including Rihanna and SZA is quite evident, highlighting a similar energy with their music - one that celebrates flaws and weakness.
In addition to being a true music mogul, Jorja happens to be an icon of style as well. Extravagant red-carpet looks to everyday streetwear staples, the budding star has aced it all - anyone who follows her social media handle would be able to confirm that. She joined forces with Nike for the debut of the Air Force 1 Sage sneakers and hosted the ‘Nike X Jorja Unlocked’ event, aimed at making young women feel empowered by laying a creative, learning platform and by asserting the quote ‘The Force is Female’. With her latest coup, Jorja has been appointed as the global face of Dior Beauty, an ideal candidate with strong feminist values and inclusive ideals. Smith is also looking to establish and design her own sneaker line in the coming future and we cannot wait to see what that artistry looks like.
Directions by Harkrishan Alag
Written by Adya Patodia