Jorja Alice Smith is an English singer-songwriter from Walsall, West Midlands. She was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2019.
Smith has released several singles since January 2016 and collaborated with other artists, including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kali Uchis, and Stormzy.
She released her debut extended play, Project 11, in November 2016.
In 2018, she won the Brit Critics’ Choice Award. Her debut studio album, Lost & Found, was released in June 2018 and peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart.
She began taking piano lessons at the age of 8 at the encouragement of her father. Smith earned a music scholarship at Aldridge School, where she learned the oboe and studied classical singing, before taking music for her A-level exams.
She was scouted by a manager at the age of 15 after uploading videos of herself singing cover songs on YouTube. Shortly after, she began travelling to London for writing sessions with Maverick Sabre and Ed Thomas, while still in school. After graduation, she moved to London at the age of 18 where she supported herself by working as a barista, and continued to write songs.
In January 2016, Smith released her debut single “Blue Lights”, which samples Dizzee Rascal’s song “Sirens”, on SoundCloud; the song garnered 400,000 plays on the website within a month.
Her second single “Where Did I Go?”, released in May, was singled out by Drake as his favourite track of the moment in Entertainment Weekly in July.
In November 2016, she released her four-track debut extended play, Project 11. The same month, Smith was selected as one of the fifteen rising acts on BBC Music’s Sound of 2017 longlist, and finished fourth on the list.
Smith performed as a special guest on Drake’s Boy Meets World Tour in February and March 2017, and featured on two tracks on his mixtape More Life (2017). She released the song “Beautiful Little Fools” on International Women’s Day; the title is a reference to the novel The Great Gatsby.
In May, she featured on Kali Uchis’ song “Tyrant”, the lead single off Uchis’ debut studio album Isolation (2018).
She released her third single, “Teenage Fantasy”, in June.
Two months later, Smith and grime artist Preditah released a single together called “On My Mind”. In September 2017, she began dating singer and producer Joel Compass.
She performed as the opening act on Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour in October and November 2017. In December, it was announced that Smith would be the recipient of the Brit Critics’ Choice Award, to be presented at the Brits nominations launch on 13 January 2018. She is the first independent artist to have been nominated for the award, let alone win.
In January 2018, she released the single “Let Me Down” featuring rapper Stormzy.
Smith co-wrote and performed the song “I Am” on Kendrick Lamar’s soundtrack album for Black Panther, released in February.
Later that month, she performed at the BRIT Awards with Rag’n’Bone Man.
In April, she made her American late-night television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with a performance of “Blue Lights”.
Her debut studio album, Lost & Found, written over a five-year period, was announced in April and released in June 2018.
In the month of the album’s release, Smith began touring in support of the album, with dates scheduled across Europe and festival appearances in Japan.
The Lost & Found Tour’s North American leg began on 19 November in Seattle and concluded on 19 December in Toronto and will be supported by Ravyn Lenae.
In 2019, Smith announced a co-headlining North American tour with Kali Uchis starting April 28 in Washington, D.C. and concluding in Toronto on May 30.
Smith grew up listening to reggae, punk, hip-hop, and R&B, and wrote her first song at the age of 11. She describes being “obsessed” with Amy Winehouse’s 2003 debut album Frank as a teenager and was inspired by the singer’s raw approach to songwriting.
Smith said her songs are about social issues: “When things are going on in the world, I think it’s important to touch on them, because as a musician, you can make people listen. As soon as people press play, you’ve got their attention.” She cites Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Mos Def, and The Streets as influences.
Her singing has drawn comparison to the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Rihanna and Alicia Keys
All Things Jorja Smith