At 21, Jorja Smith has already worked with everyone from Drake to Kendrick Lamar. Now, up for a Grammy and three Brit Awards, she’s on the cusp of superstardom
Jorja Smith shines in vibrant looks – in pictures
Alot of musicians will fib and say they don’t pay attention to industry awards, such as the Grammys and the Brits. And that’s exactly what Jorja Smith does. Except the 21-year-old soul singer from Walsall might actually be telling the truth. Tonight the Grammys will be presented in Los Angeles; Alicia Keys is the host, Dolly Parton the guest of honour. Smith was so oblivious to this fact that she booked a show, halfway round the world, in Western Australia for the same day. Then it was announced in December that she was up for Best New Artist.
“Literally the day before I was talking to my boyfriend [producer Joel Compass] because he makes music and he wanted to come out to LA around that time just to work with some people,” she says. “And I was like: ‘Oh, I reckon I’ll do the same, but maybe next year…’ Then the day after I get a message from his manager: ‘Congratulations!’ I was like, ‘What for?’ And then I saw. I didn’t even know.”
So how did Smith celebrate? She looks a bit confused, like it’s a trick question. “Hugged my boyfriend,” she replies. “And that was it.”
Our conversation is taking place in a cab on the way to Heathrow. Smith is heading out to New Zealand. She’ll honour the first few days of her tour but then – sorry Fremantle – duck out early to zip across to the Grammys. She’s a long shot to win the award: her debut album, Lost & Found, which was released last summer, didn’t crack the top 40 in the US, and she’s up against established names such as Dua Lipa and the R&B star HER. But, again, if Smith is remotely stressed about the company she’s keeping, she’s not showing it.
“It’s great being… I wouldn’t say up against, it’s just great being recognised among these talented people,” she says. “People like HER… Who else is in there? I knew when I looked, but now I’ve forgotten. Sorry.”