By Sewe Ishola
Nigerian-born, UK-based soul singer, Rita Ekwere has topped the BBC’s Sound Of 2017 list.
The singer, who is more popularly known as Ray BLK, told BBC, “I can’t believe this is happening. It’s all just so ridiculous!”
Rita, who has been called the “the Lauryn Hill of the UK” added that she wanted her music to empower women to live life as they want
“There are so many societal pressures on women, on how we should behave, and they’re all based on male privilege.”
Rita released her first recordings while studying for an English degree and worked in an advertising agency in order to sustain her musical career.
She combines hip-hop and R&B; she does streetwise and literate lyrics, and gained popularity through her track, ‘My Hood,’ which is a bittersweet love letter to her home town, Catford.
“The south east is one of the roughest places in London but it rears the strongest people, and that’s what makes us special,” Rita said of her hood.
She avoided signing a record deal in order to retain the rights to her music, which she releases on her own label.
“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,” Rita said.
The BBC Sound of the year list, which aims to predict the most exciting new music for the year ahead, for the first time has an unsigned artist winning the top spot.