Jorja Alice Smith (born 11 June 1997) is a British singer and songwriter from Walsall, West Midlands. Jorja attended Aldridge Secondary School. She released her debut extended play, Project 11, in November 2016.

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, Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, Mos Def, and The Streets as influences.

Jorja Smith has released several singles since January 2016 and collaborated with other artists, including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Kali Uchis, and Stormzy. She performed as the opening act on Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour in October and November 2017. Her debut studio album, Lost & Found, was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart. In 2018, Smith won the Brit Critics’ Choice Award. In 2019, she was named Best British Female Artist at the 2019 Brit Awards and was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

1997–2015: Early life

Jorja Alice Smith was born on 11 June 1997 in Walsall, West Midlands, to a Jamaican father and English mother. Her father, Peter, a benefits officer, is a former musician and he sang in a neo-soul group called 2nd Naicha before Smith was born, and her mother, Jolene, is a jewelry designer. Smith has a younger brother, Luca, and is the cousin of footballer Kemar Roofe.

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 traveling 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.

2016–18: Career beginnings and Lost & Found

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 favorite 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.

Smith performing in April 2018

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 the film Black Panther, released in February. Later that month, she performed at the BRIT Awards with Rag’n’Bone Man. In April, she made her US 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 to critical acclaim. 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 conclude on 19 December in Toronto and will be supported by Ravyn Lenae.

2019–present: Upcoming projects

In 2019, Smith announced a co-headlining North American tour with Kali Uchis starting on 28 April in Washington, D.C., and concluding in Toronto on 30 May. In August 2019, Smith released the single “Be Honest” featuring Burna Boy.

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