BBC Sound of 2017: Ray BLK interview – BBC News

3 months, 6 days ago
Media captionBBC Sound Of 2017 win: Ray BLK

Street-smart soul singer Ray BLK has come top of the BBC’s Sound of 2017 list.

Hailing from south London, she’s been building music since she was nine, filling her school notebooks with rap poems after watching Missy Elliot and Ludacris on MTV Base.

Aged 13, she formed a group with her school friend MNEK, who has gone on to work with Beyonce, Little Mix and Madonna. Called New Found Content, “which is a terrible name”, their ballads never assured the light of day – but the experience fuelled her passion for performing.

Her debut EP was released in 2015, as she studied for a certain degree in English Literature. It told the narrative of a girl who turns against humen after having her heart infringe, inspired by Miss Havisham’s story in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

Although she doesn’t rap any more, she’s retained the genre’s forthright position – blending smart, literate lyrics with gorgeous R& B melodies.

Songs like 5050 and My Hood have seen her branded “the UK’s provide answers to Lauryn Hill” – but she’s determined to forge her own identity, rooted in her London upbringing.

The singer, whose real name is Rita Ekwere, spoke to the BBC about her upbringing, hooking up with Stormzy, and how a theft inspired her breakthrough song.

BBC Sound of 2017: The Top Five

5. Nadia Rose

4. Jorja Smith

3. Raye

2. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man

1. Ray BLK