In 2016, Jorja Smith was relatively unknown in the music industry. While living in the small town of Walsall in the U.K., the singer began releasing music, steadily gaining a following over the next several years, launching her into fame.
Smith dropped “A Prince,” as well as her first breakthrough single “Blue Lights” on SoundCloud that year, sampling Dizee Rascal’s “Sirens.” “Blue Lights” earned over 400,000 plays on the streaming service within the first month of its release, and would later be re-released on her debut album, “Lost & Found.”
Following her first few singles came Smith’s first EP in the same year, titled “Project 11.” It contains collaborations with Maverick Sabre on “Carry Me Home” and with Thea Gajic on “Carry Me Home (Interlude),” and gained attention from major stars like Drake.
After getting noticed by Drake, Smith was asked to open for the rapper on his “Boy Meets World Tour” in 2017. She was also featured on two singles on his album “More Life,” called “Get It Together” and “Jorja Interlude.” Kali Uchis also aided the singer after featuring Smith on her song “Tyrant.” This helped the singer grow internationally.
The singer also dropped minor singles like “Beautiful Little Fools” and “On My Mind,” but her notoriety grew in 2018 when she released “Lost & Found.” The album helped her become the first independent female musician to win a Brit Critics’ Choice Award, which has been given to big stars such as Adele and Sam Smith. Smith also got to perform at the award show with Rag’n’Bone Man, performing the song “Skin.”
Her first album also did very well in the mainstream that year, reaching No.3 in the U.K. It also was nominated for a Mercury Prize thanks to singles like “Blue Lights,” “Where Did I Go?” and “Teenage Fantasy.”
Three years after the launch of her career, Smith collaborated again with Sabre on 2019’s “Slow Down,” also winning a BRIT Award for British Female Solo Artist. She also ventured into touring, performing all across the U.S. on a co-headlining tour with Uchis. Smith also connected with Burna Boy on another single, titled “Be Honest.”
Although 2020 was a slow year for Smith due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she casually released new music, including “Kiss Me In The Morning,” “Rose Rouge,” “By Any Means” and “Come Over (feat. Popcaan).” However, the pandemic allowed the singer to prepare her next EP, which came out the next year.
With eight songs, “Be Right Back” received raving reviews for Smith’s comeback, and certain singles like “Addicted,” “Gone” and “Bussdown (feat. Shaybo)” all helped her stay in the mainstream. Smith was also featured on songs like Jaykae’s “1000 Nights” and Wesley Joseph’s “Patience” in 2021, expanding her range and collaborations with other artists.
As the pandemic settled down, Smith began to work with bigger names like FKA twigs on “darjeeling,” which was featured on the singer’s album “CAPRISONGS.” Calvin Harris also asked to work with Smith, releasing “Somebody Else” on his 2022 album “Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2.” The singer also worked with Ibeyi on “Lavender & Red Roses,” Sasha Keable on “Killing Me” and James Cole on “Slow Down.”
However, the singer has used 2023 to her advantage, recently dropping her second studio album in five years. Releasing the first music video for the record in May, she also dropped the album’s lead single, “Little Things,”the following month. Then, in September, “falling or flying” was released, receiving a 7.6 rating from Pitchfork.
The publication said, “The result is a sumptuous, earthy album that experiments more freely with genre than Smith’s music has before.”
Although Smith has not announced a tour to promote her new album, she has made several appearances throughout the U.S. and U.K. over the last few months, leaving fans wondering when the singer will hit the road.
Overall, Smith has proven her resilience and work ethic over time, helping solidify her internationally as one of R&B’s biggest names over the last five years.