Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Mahalia

If you were wondering who Genius-featured artist Mahalia is, then you’d have to trace her roots back to her hometown in Leicester. Based in Birmingham, the UK-born songstress honed in on her craft with songwriting and learning the guitar in her early years. At the age of 13, she garnered industry recognition and drew attention from a plethora of record labels. However, her first full-length project would arrive years later in the form of an EP called Head Space in 2012. After she took a hiatus to focus on her academics, she reinvented her sound & lent her talents on Rudimental‘s 2015 single “We the Generation.” In the same year, she released her second EP called Never Change in December. In 2016, Mahalia Burkmar expanded her artistry by having a role in the UK film Brotherhood and made her Asylum Record UK debut with Diary of Me.

In 2017, a slew of singles showcased her vocal ability as an alternative R&B singer. Specifically, Mahalia performed “Sober” on the YouTube channel COLORS. Influenced by Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, her lush vocals cut through the R&B-infused instrumentation with a rap-like cadence that interweaves the beat. As a glimpse of her raw talent, listeners may latch onto her vulnerability and emotion oozing through her live performance. As a contrast between her red attire and blue background, the visuals add an artistic dimension that forces listeners to focus on Mahalia’s command of the microphone.

However, the 2019 Brits’ Critics Choice-nominee took the world by storm with her 2018 breakthrough hit “I Wish I Missed My Ex.”  Produced by Maths Time Joy and Swindle, the track accumulated 13 million streams on Spotify alone. In her Genius-verified video, she aptly explained that she wanted an eye-catching title. As she broke down her own lyrics, she described that she needed space from a prior relationship and didn’t care about providing closure to her ex. Her commentary tries to dispute the societal norms of women yearning closure on a relationship. At such a young age, her maturity and emotional intelligence may resonate with people that are unfamiliar with her music.

As a departure from her signature sound, “Do Not Disturb” attempts to resurrect 2000s adult contemporary with an R&B twist. The piano-driven production provides the perfect landing spot for Mahalia’s melodic vocals. Compared to her early catalog, her vocal runs complementing the piano chords and sub-bass deems her as a veteran of the game. The improvement of production quality and sequencing highlights Mahalia’s capability of a catchy hit. Although she is relatively unknown outside of the UK, her latest single may catapult her in the conversation with the likes of Jorja Smith.

Be sure to follow Mahalia on Spotify & YouTube and check her out on tour in Europe.

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