The Black British music scene is in a healthy place right now. With grime at the forefront, breaking boundaries across major mainstream platforms, it’s also the resurgence of UK R&B that’s making this a truly exciting time.

This revamp, which some call “alt-R&B” and “future R&B”, has birthed a new generation of bold, experimental singers and songwriters who are doing their part to put the soul back into British music. One of the most intriguing artists to emerge over the past few months is Walsall, West Midlands native Jorja Smith—whose laid-back, jazzy vocals and hard-hitting lyrics on social injustice and love offer a stark contrast to her infectiously innocent and sweet persona.

With much of her inspiration coming from her dad, who himself fronted neo-soul band 2nd Naicha, Jorja’s relationship with music runs deep, discovering her love for performance at the tender age of 8 and taking her first leap into songwriting at 11. Having recently left her job at Starbucks to follow her dreams of becoming a bright-eyed singer of songs, Jorja knows exactly what she wants and how she aims to get it.

Complex sat down with the 19-year-old artist in East London to learn more about what the future holds, her views on police brutality, and the need for female solidarity in music.

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