By Jordan Yeager
Wednesday, May 22
Jorja Smith emanates self-assured grace and confidence, an embodiment of the duality of being both soft-spoken and completely badass. The young singer is contemplative, poised, and to the point, carefully handpicking words to convey the thoughts spinning around the heights of her Gemini mind.
Though her ascent to stardom might seem sudden, Smith has been hard at work for years. She started writing songs and playing keyboard as a child; some tracks off her debut album Lost & Found were written when she was 16. She’s 21 now.
“My parents always encourage me to do what I love and follow my dreams,” says Smith. “They boosted my confidence early. I used to sing all the time in the house and play them songs I’d written. My mom got me into playing the keyboard when I was eight.”
Some of us would be mortified to read songs we’d written in our vulnerable, awkward teenage years, let alone perform them in front of global audiences. But Smith transcends that embarrassment – she knew herself then, just as she does now.
“It’s mad to think things I go through now I can relate to through my music from years ago,” she says. “They can give me the same feeling.”
Growing up in the small town of Walsall, England, Smith was a fish too big for her tank. She got restless, and by 16, she knew she wanted to move to London to pursue music.
“I didn’t know any different than Walsall when I grew up,” she says. “When I started going to London I realized that’s where I wanted to be. I’m a busy body and love to be constantly doing things.”
Smith has collaborated with artists like Stormzy, Drake, and most recently Kali Uchis, who is accompanying her on this North American tour. But she’ll never work with someone just for the clout. In fact, she almost said no to working with Drake.
“I write my own songs, and ‘Get It Together’ was a cover for me to sing,” she says. “At first I didn’t relate to the words, but over time things changed in my life and I listened back. I was like, ‘Oh, now I get what she is saying.’”
The singer-songwriter has always known what she wants, and to witness her thoughtful process is to know that she is right in her certainty that she’ll succeed. Her advice to anyone chasing similar goals is poignant.
“Don’t compare yourself to other artists as we all have our own path. Love and believe in what you do, explore your craft and push yourself even further than you think you can go. Don’t be afraid of criticism either – it can help. But trust yourself.”
Get Tickets To See Kali Uchis & Jorja Smith This May:
🎟 Vancouver, May 22 – http://hive.co/l/kalijorjapne
🎟 Toronto, May 30 – http://hive.co/l/kalijorjator