R&B singer Jorja Smith makes her San Francisco Popscene debut at the Rickshaw Stop. (Chloe Newman)

R&B singer Jorja Smith makes her San Francisco Popscene debut at the Rickshaw Stop. (Chloe Newman)

Soul singer Jorja Smith takes time to break into music biz


In this era of star-making vehicles like “The Voice” and “American Idol,” a lot of young vocalists are searching for the fast track to fame and fortune, but British newcomer Jorja Smith isn’t. At 19, the soulful singer, who has been pursuing music seriously for three years, has one EP and a handful of supple, sparsely-adorned singles — “A Prince,” “Blue Lights” and “Where Did I Go” — to her credit. And she has no plans to release a debut album any time soon. “I’m not rushing into anything,” she says. “What we’ve done so far has been really good, so I just want to carry on doing that.”

Your dad was in a band called Second Nature. Not the American boy band, of course.

No, no. It wasn’t a big band or anything. It was just a band with his friends, and they used to just play universities and stuff like that. But he did a little writing and singing, which is probably where I got it from. They didn’t do covers – they wrote their own songs. I wasn’t born yet when my dad was in the band, but my mom had live recordings of them, and she used to play them around the house. And that really got me interested in recording.

Did your father help you?

I used to write all the time at home, and I’d show him what I’d just written, and ask my dad what he thought, and he’d help me out sometimes. He really enjoyed writing with me. And he gave me so much advice. He told me to always be me — that’s probably the best advice he gave me. But I’m still finding myself, really — I’m still a baby in this industry. But I knew I wanted to be a singer from a very early age.

And you sang in choir, too?

I was on a music scholarship from school; that’s how I got into my secondary school. And I had to sing in a choir because everyone had to do it. But we were good. We sang choral music, and at Christmas we’d sing in church. I didn’t do a lot of solos, but I used to be so scared of singing them. I’m quite confident now singing. But it used to take me forever to get ready to sing alone. I’d always cough before a performance.

But how scary was the London music industry?

It wasn’t that shocking. Because I’ve been working with my manager for three years, I’ve been slowly given tastes of what’s to come, I guess. So I can prepare myself, and now I’m just like, “OK. Cool.” But I’ve found that everybody knows everybody in London — it’s so small that it’s crazy.

IF YOU GO
Jorja Smith
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Jan. 27
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.eventbrite.comBlue LightsBritishEPJorja SmithPop MusicPrinceWhere Did I Go

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu, who took office in February, is in the process of restructuring the sprawling department. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
Report knocks city administrator for inefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

California Highway Patrol officers watch as Caltrans workers remove barricades from homeless camp sites as residents are forced to relocate from a parking lot underneath Interstate 80 on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco’s broken promise to resolve homeless encampments

‘There is an idea that The City is leading with services, and they are not’

Most Read