Artist Focus: Shola Ama

Monday, 29 May 2017

Shola Ama is without a doubt one of the finest R&B soul singer and songwriters the UK has seen.

Born and raised in London to a Caribbean mother and European father, Shola’s career first took off at the tender age of 15. Shola was humming to herself while waiting on a tube platform at Hammersmith station, when she was overheard by legendary producer and founding-member of D-Influence, Kwame Kwaten. He auditioned her on the spot, and promptly signed her to his label Freakstreet. Shola hasn’t looked back since.

After signing her first record deal, Shola’s debut album ‘Much Love’ soon followed, released in 1997 and spawning the 90’s anthems ‘You Might Need Somebody’ and ‘You’re the One I Love’. The album was an instant R&B classic, selling a million copies worldwide and bagging Shola two MOBOS (‘Best Newcomer’, ‘Best R&B Act’) and a Brit award for ‘Best British Female’. It even lead to her performing a private concert for the Pope.

After ‘Much Love’, Shola released ‘In Return’ in 1999, which was produced by Kwaten, as well as Tribe Called Quest hip-hop icon Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The album also included the chart-topping ‘Imagine’, which ended up getting airplay twice-over after later being remixed by Garage producer Club Asylum.

Shola has toured extensively across the UK and been a special guest to artists like Fugees, Jamiraquai and 3T. Meanwhile, her work has inspired a whole host of tracks from acts like Dream Teem and Toddla T.

Most recently, Shola and her sister Sadie (an R&B artist in her own right) joined the UK supergroup A-List, headed up by Grime legend Wiley, making tracks like ‘Midnight Lover’.

Shola will be playing the Backto95 stage at 51st State, and we can’t wait to see her performing some proper Garage classics.