UK’s Best Black Female Artists in 2020

We profile some of the most exciting black female artists making new music history...

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October is Black History Month so every week we’ll be featuring a new blog celebrating and championing black music talent. 

Originally created in the US, the event is now a fixture in the UK calendar too, billed as "an annual celebration of the contributions of Africa, Africans and people of African descent to world civilisation from antiquity to the present".

During the first week, we're profiling some of the most exciting British black female artists, who we feel are creating new music history with their songwriting prowess and great performances.

Please note this list isn't exhaustive, nor is it in order of any preference. But it is a snapshot of some of favourites we believe are pushing the sonic envelope forward. Listen below...

NAO

Anyone who tuned into our recent masterclass will have become well acquainted with 21st century soul star NAO. Her journey from music student to Grammy nominations via collaborations with Mura Masa and Disclosure is an inspiring one. 

Make sure you check out her brilliant albums ‘For All We Know’ and ‘Saturn’, and her latest release, 'Woman', with Lianna La Havas. 

Visit NAO's Facebook page to find out more.

Little Simz 

Rapper and singer Little Simz is a powerful contemporary musical voice.

With three albums under her belt, including the brilliant Mercury Prize nominated ‘Grey Area’, she’s enjoyed a successful 2020 despite lockdown and the pandemic. The record won Best Album at both the Ivor Novello Awards and NME Awards, cementing her arrival as one of the UK’s most exciting stars.

Visit Little Simz' Facebook page for more information.

Ray BLK

The first unsigned artist to win the BBC’s Sound of Poll in 2017, Ray BLK’s talents as a singer songwriter have shone through a string of great releases and collaborations.

Originally from South London, her latest album ‘Empress’ was released via Island Records to rave reviews. Check out this Stormzy collaboration which helped her career take off... 

Visit Ray BLK's Facebook page for more information.

Nubya Garica

London-based saxophonist, composer and bandleader Nubya Garcia is one of the capital’s new talents helping reshape traditional perceptions of jazz.

Drawing on the spiritual qualities of John Coltrane, mixed with a love for contemporary club culture, her recently released debut album ‘Source’ is a must hear. 

Visit Nubya's website to learn more.

Ego Ella May 

With props from renowned selector Gilles Peterson to headlining the Roundhouse Rising festival at Camden's iconic venue, Ego Ella May is an ICMP alumna and accomplished singer songwriter and artist. 

2020 has been an important year for her with the release of her debut album, 'Honey for Wounds'. Listen to this great performance of 'In the Morning' below...

Visit Ego Ella May's Bandcamp page for more information. 

Jorja Smith 

The Walsall singer-songwriter may only be in her early twenties yet she's already been named as Best British Female Artist at the Brits, earned a Grammy nomination and seen her debut record, 'Lost & Found'  hit the top three.

She's currently working on new material, having just released latest track 'Come Over' featuring Popcaan. Listen to her break out hit, 'Blue Lights'

Visit jorjasmith.com for more information.

Arlo Parks

This 20 year-old songwriter and poet has been tipped for great success by the likes of MusicWeek and the BBC via its Sound of 2020 poll. 

Taking her pointers from the likes of Portishead and Earl Sweatshirt, her sound is a diverse one, encapsulating the genre-bending artistry of our time. Listen to 'Black Dog' below...

Visit arloparksofficial.com for more information.

Tiana Major9 

There's hotly tipped and then there's Tiana Major9.

From Vogue covers courtesy of Stormzy to signing a deal with Motown, ICMP alumna Tiana forges a futuristic sound using the best bits of classic soul and funk to drive her music. Check out her latest 'At Sixes and Sevens'...

Visit tianamajor9.com for more information. 

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
October 5, 2020
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