From Twitter to Clubhouse, UK R&B has been a popular topic for discussion recently, but people aren’t always informed enough when offering their various hot-takes as many are still unaware of just how deep the talent pool in this scene actually is, which can partly be attributed to the genre not being supported by mainstream outlets like it once was. Regardless, the talent is undeniable, and the music is the healthiest it has been since we first launched our annual list of artists to watch in 2016.
Even with the unprecedented times we’re living in now due to COVID-19 and artists not being able to tour and record as they usually would, UK R&B has shown no signs of slowing down, with artists from our previous lists continuing to take major strides. Mahalia and Tiana Major9—from our 2018 and 2019 lists, respectively—both received Grammy nominations last year, and the likes of Jorja Smith, Ella Mai, Sinead Harnett, NAO and Cleo Sol have also represented on a global scale. Now, though, we have even more artists looking to propel the scene to greater heights.
Here are 12 UK R&B/soul acts to watch in 2021.