Unsigned Soul singer wins BBC award

For the first time in its history, an unsigned artist has won the BBC Sound of…award. Dónal Murray-Ferris profiles the Sound of 2017 winner Ray BLK.


22 year old Ray BLK from South London has won the BBC Sound of 2017 award which has previously gone to big names including Adele and Sam Smith.

Earlier today the BBC conducted an interview with her about her surprise win of the award. Ray was born in Nigeria but raised in London, and started her career by ripping and mixing tracks from YouTube and sharing them out on SoundCloud. She started to release music while writing her dissertation on post-colonial Nigerian Literature.

She has been quoted as saying she wants her music to empower women to live their lives in their way. This is a very fitting statement as four out of the top five nominees this year were black female artists. It is clear that the idea of female empowerment is one that was highly present in her early work, namely an early EP which was inspired by Great Expectations character Miss Havisham and the heartbreak she encountered- one which Ray thinks all women can relate to.

Though it isn’t only the empowerment of women that she is passionate about which she discovered during her travels to Jamaica for the filming of her video for ‘Chill Out’. For this video she filmed with Transgender men who lived in the drains in Kingston who are referred to as the Gully Queens.

It is clear that the idea of female empowerment is one that was highly present in her early work, namely an early EP which was inspired by Great Expectations character Miss Havisham and the heartbreak she encountered- one which Ray thinks all women can relate to.

In her interview with the BBC, she described this experience as incredible saying that “it put a lot into perspective because every day of their lives is a struggle and a battle to stay alive- yet they were so happy, so full of life”.

Not one to shy away from difficult topics her music also focuses on some of the darkest times in her life growing up in London particularly in the song ‘My Hood’ which was written about her home town of Catford.

I think we should all watch this space for more of the artist dubbed the UK’s answer to Lauryn Hill.

Follow Dónal on Twitter (@simplydonal)

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