An R&B singer and songwriter with a casually commanding voice, Ella Mai wasn't exactly an unknown artist before DJ Mustard signed her to his 10 Summers label, but the U.K. native hit the mainstream in 2018 with breakthrough single "Boo'd Up," a sparkling slow jam that increased in popularity throughout the year. The single led to her Top Five self-titled debut album, which arrived that October and was followed shortly thereafter by a Grammy win for Best R&B Song.

Change Raised in southwest London, Ella Mai Howell moved to New York at the age of 12, then returned to England after she graduated from high school. In 2014, while attending the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in London, she competed on The X Factor as part of a trio named Arize, but the group didn't advance beyond the initial audition and subsequently broke up. The following year, Ella Mai uploaded a solo EP of originals to SoundCloud and clips of covers to Instagram. The latter caught the attention of producer DJ Mustard, who in January 2016 announced that Mai had signed to his Interscope-distributed 10 Summers label. Mai made her proper debut the following month with Time, a poised EP of sleek, contemporary R&B. Featuring the Ty Dolla $ign collaboration "She Don't," the six-track release introduced an artist who could sing of fierce loyalty and ruthless spite in an incisive manner. Mai quickly followed up with two more Mustard-assisted EPs: Change, a November 2016 release, and Ready, issued four months later. Ready highlight "Boo'd Up," a love ballad reminiscent of R&B's pre-new jack swing era, cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2018 and three months later peaked at number five -- an unusually long period of ascent. "Trip" arrived as "Boo'd Up" began its slide off the chart and reached number 11 in October, the month Ella Mai released her self-titled debut album. Containing her two biggest hits to that point, Ella Mai debuted at number five on the Billboard 200. "Boo'd Up" was nominated for Grammy awards in the categories of Song of the Year (one of "the Big Four") and Best R&B Song. At the early 2019 ceremony, she took home the prize for the latter.

-Allmusic

Based in Birmingham, England, Mahalia is Mahalia Burkmar, an alt-R&B/soul singer and songwriter who counts Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill among her biggest influences. A native of Leicestershire, she started writing songs and playing the guitar as a preteen. Burkmar drew the interest of major record labels by the age of 13, and released her first collection, Head Space EP, in mid-2012. After taking some time to finish school and hone her sound, Mahalia re-emerged in 2015 on Rudimental's single "We the Generation," and performed with the group on Later...with Jools Holland. Her second EP, Never Change, followed that December. In 2016, Burkmar had an acting role in the U.K. crime film Brotherhood and released her debut album, Diary of Me, on Asylum Records UK, a division of Atlantic Records. She followed it up in 2017 with appearances on festival stages in the U.K. and a series of collaborative singles, including "Hold On" featuring Buddy, the Maths Time Joy-produced "No Pressure," and in early 2018, "Proud of Me" featuring Little Simz. Following the singles "No Reply," "Water," and "I Wish I Missed My Ex," Mahalia issued the five-song Seasons EP in late 2018. "Do Not Disturb" followed a few months later in early 2019.

-Allmusic

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