Tiana Major9

Selected by: Jesse Bernard

Name: Tiana Major9

Where She’s From: East London

When She Started: 2014

Genre: R&B/Jazz

File Next To: Yazmin Lacey, Kojey Radical, Jaz Karis, Jamilah Barry

Sounds Like: “Jazz-fusion with elements of electronic music.”

Vocal Inspirations: “D’Angelo and my guitarist, co-writer and brother, Melvin.”

Tiana Major9’s presence in R&B is as refreshing as her voice. At a time where the underground scene is at its peak—and after a number of years performing live—the release of her debut EP, Rehearsal @ NINE, marks the beginning of a new chapter in her career. Although she’s been performing since she was a child, in recent years, Tiana emerged among the 2014-2017 underground class of British artists who developed their styles during SoundCloud’s glory years and have since established a strong footing within a burgeoning scene.

The name itself, ‘Major9’, is a nod to the major 9th chord, one heavily adorned in jazz circles. Sonically, Tiana leans towards jazz-inspired melodies and notes which often tend to be more lingering and drawn-out than popular R&B melodies. On Rehearsal @ Nine, she draws from her live performance background, which has formed the foundation of her sound over the past four to five years. “I can’t write a song without having key changes in it and that’s multiple,” she says. “I like to challenge myself vocally, and my listeners, because I don’t want people to predict what’s coming next in my songs.”

A pattern has begun to form among the generations of British R&B performers who sung in the choirs of their churches growing up. It’s already apparent that gospel music heavily influenced popular US R&B, but the same can be said of Black British R&B, although a much smaller pool of talent. “I consider myself a live musician and I’ve only just started to get into recording my music in the studio; it’s very new to me,” she explains. “My mum had me singing in church a lot and, at the beginning, all I was singing was gospel really. Then I went to college and I started to branch out and experiment a bit more, and jazz happened to be my space.”

As she continues to add new skills and practices to her arsenal through her learning of music theory, Tiana Major9 will find herself continuing the legacy of nu-soul in Britain. Rehearsal @ NINE sets her on that journey, where she represents a moment where underground R&B and adjacent sounds couldn’t be healthier.

TRENCH Highlight...

Photography: Jesse Bernard

Posted on February 06, 2019