South London singer wins prestigious BBC award

Croydon singer, RAY BLK. Pic: Haley Louisa Brown.

South London’s home grown Ray BLK has been crowned BBC Sound of 2017. The R&B singer’s reaction was one of surprise: “Everything’s surreal. I’m living the dream.”

Speaking to East London Lines, she added: “Winning the BBC Sound of 2017 has to be the most surprising thing that’s happened to me thus far. I feel so honoured to have topped the list this early in my career and join such an incredible alumni of winners. Thank you so much to the BBC and all the voters.”

Her soulful yet raspy tone took over the airwaves and captured the listeners of urban music. Her stage name Ray BLK is an acronym for Building, Living and Knowing which centres on the essence of building a future, living life to the fullest and acquiring an education.

The singer, 21, was up against Nadia Rose, Jorja Smith, RAYE and Rag ‘n’ Bone who were all categorised amongst the top 5. Her hit song ‘My Hood’ featured top grime artist Stormzy in 2016 in her album ‘Durt’. It explained her bittersweet experience living in South London, where as she revealed in her interview, she was robbed. Her neighbours meanwhile were selling drugs from their house.

She added: “I’m particularly proud to be a part of this year’s list as it’s full of so much talent, some of whom are independent artists like myself which I really hope inspires the next generation.”

Originally from Catford the singer revealed in a short documentary with the BBC that she grew up in a distinctly unmusical family. Ray BLK attributed her success to historical authors like Charles Dickens, which inspired her first EP, to be called ‘Havisham’.

Her video for ‘Chill Out’ featured transgender women from the LGBT community in Jamaica being forced out of their homes. The song was based on female empowerment and she had the opportunity to meet the ‘Gully Queens’ who were the few people in the video.

It was an eye-opening experience revealing the struggles of choosing this way of life in a country which finds abnormality in it. The experience allowed Ray to look past her own ambitions. She is now trying to raise money to get the women into safe housing.

Ray BLK has a sold out show at the Village Underground, Shoreditch on February 27.

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