Selected by: James Keith

Name: Hamzaa

Where She’s From: East London

When She Started: 2016

Genre: Acoustic R&B

File Next To: Yazmin Lacey, Emeli Sandé, Sade, Aadae

Sounds Like: “It’s soul, it’s emotion, it’s pop but the kind you can listen to at 2pm and at 2am.”

First Track That Inspired Her: “‘Encore’ by Cheryl Lynn.”

The harsh and gritty street sounds of UK rap, drill, trap and grime have been thriving for more than a little while now, but running counter to that, so have the more classic sounds of jazz and soul. In particular, powerful female vocalists are doing huge things at every level. One such singer is Hackney-born Hamzaa who, when we asked her to describe her music, said “it’s soul, it’s emotion, it’s pop but the kind you can listen to at 2pm and at 2am.”

That classic sound comes from a well-informed musical education. Titans like Jocelyn Brown, Johnny Gill, Cheryl Lynn, Lauryn Hill, Beyoncé and Amy Winehouse were all mainstays on her stereo—she’s already even been compared to Winehouse in her nascent career.

Hamzaa isn’t just learning to perform like her heroes to get that timeless soul sound, she also follows their lead in terms of finding her source material. Her debut single, “Stranded Love”, dissected her first great heartbreak and her debut EP, First Signs Of Me, continues with those themes. The EP also goes further into what she describes as “the most painful period of [her] life”, something we’ve already seen in the stellar “You”, which she ended up performing live on Later… With Jools Holland.

Only a couple of songs and an EP into her career, Hamzaa has hit some huge career goals already. As for what’s next, she says, “I want to put out a really good album and for it to take me around the world.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on January 16, 2019