South London R&B singer Ray Blk has been named as the winner of the BBC Sound Of 2017 poll.
The BBC has been counting down the list this week, with the top five completed by Rag’N’Bone Man, who came second, with Jorja Smith, RAYE and Nadia Rose in third, fourth and fifth positions respectively.
The 22-year-old Blk, from Catford, commented: “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! 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 of artists.”
Ray Blk released her Durt EP last October, comprising seven tracks including Chill Out (feat. SG Lewis) and breakout single My Hood (feat. Stormzy). The singer, who is still unsigned but has a publishing deal with BMG, grew up listening to Missy Elliott and Timbaland and has been compared to Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill.
Blk – whose stage surname Blk stands for Building Living Knowing – has released a new track Patience (Freestyle) to celebrate; the song was recorded in Los Angeles.
Around 170 industry experts, who are asked to name three artists they are tipping for success in the coming year, vote for the BBC Sound Of poll. Huw Stephens, who made Blk’s 50/50 his record of the week, said: “Some artists have that magic about them. I've played everything I've heard from Ray Blk on my BBC Radio 1 show, and she played a stunning Radio 1 Piano Session for us. She has a real, raw talent that cuts through so strongly. Ray BLK's own songs and collaborations with artists like Stormzy and Wretch 32 have left us all so excited about her as an artist. She is the real deal.”
BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra head of music Chris Price added: “Huge congratulations to Ray Blk, a phenomenally talented songwriter with her own unique sound. Not only that, Ray is a fantastic live performer, and we were thrilled to welcome her into the 1Xtra Live Lounge, as well as capture her collaboration with Wretch 32 for Radio 1’s Piano Sessions. The BBC will keep nurturing brilliant new talent like Ray, who has had a really exciting couple of years as an emerging artist and has earned all the success coming her way in 2017 and beyond.”
Jamal Edwards MBE, founder of SB.TV and a big supporter of Ray Blk commented: "It's amazing and well deserved that Ray Blk has won this year's BBC Music Sound Of 2017. I was blown away when I first watched her perform last year at one of my nights; the reaction was brilliant with everyone raving about her songs, style, voice and that she is the whole package. It is a strong start to the year for her to be recognized with such an accolade and I know she's going to have an amazing year ahead so I can't wait to see what's next. She's something special."
The BBC launched its Sound Of poll in 2003 and previous winners have included Adele, Sam Smith, Haim and Ellie Goulding. Last year’s winner, Jack Garratt was one of three artists analysed in a 2016 breakthroughs feature in Music Week’s review of 2016 issue.
Read more about Ray Blk in next week’s issue of Music Week.