On January 19, 2016, Jorja Smith made a decision that would alter her life forever. After years of posting cover songs on YouTube, the suburban British teen mustered the courage to upload her first original—a meditation on police brutality called “Blue Lights”—to SoundCloud. And so began the ascent of a star. “I don’t want to disappoint myself, so I just kind of let things happen,” Smith says, reminiscing about the song’s sudden appearance on London radio playlists. Her first EP, Project 11, squashed any murmurs of one-hit wonder, presenting a deft young talent who could swing between heartbreaker and heartbroken. At a time of near-ubiquitous synths and Auto-Tune, Smith favors the neo-soul of Sade and Alicia Keys; her smoky voice glides as naturally as the curves of her body. Having already earned a coveted Brit Award and collaborated with Drake and Kendrick Lamar, Smith is just getting started. This summer will see both her 21st birthday and the release of her already buzzy debut album—which she faces with characteristic modesty. “I wasn’t so confident growing up,” she says. “I thought I wasn’t thin enough or too tan. Now there are so many people watching me, I have to try to not care.”

Styling by Toni-Blaze for LMC Worldwide
Hair by Joy Matashi
Makeup by Carol Lopez Reid
Production by joonproductions.co.uk

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