Head of Music Partnerships at YouTube Azi Eftekhari said: “Grace follows in the footsteps of Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa, who found fame on the world’s biggest music platform.
“London-born, Brighton-raised, Grace Carter grew up listening to strong powerful female voices, like Lauryn Hill and Nina Simone, which has inspired her singles to date, which all stand out for their emotional and musical maturity. Grace is self-made – from song writing at school, and performing her own material at just 14, transforming her bedroom into a recording studio, and teaching herself to play piano from YouTube videos. She’s already been picked by Dua Lipa to support her on her UK tour, as well as Dermot Kennedy, Rag N Bone Man and Mabel. In terms of her own fanbase – the streaming numbers speak for themselves, Grace had only released three singles and her latest single, Why Her Not Me, has already been watched over 2.5 million times in the month since launch.
Grace said: “This is crazy! 2018 has been incredible and this has just topped it off. Being able to share my music and story with people over the past year has been out of this world, I’ve toured with some amazing artists such as Dua Lipa and Haim and have learnt so much about myself and the artist I want to be. Being picked by YouTube Music as one of their ones to watch is an honour, YouTube has allowed me to build a community of people all around the world who relate to me and my music in places I would’ve never imagined. I feel like the music I’m putting out now is the perfect example of what I’m about and who I am. My songs are the letters I never sent and I’m so happy I get to share this moment with you. Here’s to 2019.”
Azi added: “This inspiring new list of talent has been compiled by YouTube Music based on a variety of factors, including YouTube views, engagement from global music fans and YouTube Music analytics. Top of the list is R&B songstress Mahalia, who has already racked up over 100,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel and just yesterday launched her incredible new track, One Night Only, featuring another one of YouTube Music’s picks, Kojey Radical.”
The full UK ‘Ones to Watch’ 2019 list from YouTube Music shown below. To note, Mahalia comes in at #1 with the rest in no particular order:
#1 UK One to Watch: Mahalia
Azi added: “Demonstrating the true diversity within the British music scene right now, the list is dominated by an eclectic mix of individual singer songwriters and individual artists. From the R&B soul of Mahalia to Slowthai’s unforgettable unique rap, the list is defined by musicians who are pushing boundaries and, in some instances, creating new genres. The list is also notable for not featuring any groups, comprising ten solo artists reflective by trends, views and insights on YouTube.”
Azi Eftekhari, Head of Music Partnerships at YouTube, UK commented: “This is a year of UK artists doing their own thing. With the freedom musicians now have to express themselves not just sonically, but visually, it’s perhaps unsurprising that this list only features solo artists, many of whom are genuinely pushing artistic and visual boundaries. For example, Kojey, Octavian and Slowthai are arguably redefining UK rap as a genre, and acts like Mahalia, L Devine and Grace Carter - while they undeniably have huge commercial appeal - don’t conform to the conventional expectations of a pop act. One thing is certain - YouTube continues to be an unmatched launch pad for emerging artists, and 2019 is set to be a huge year for homegrown UK talent.”
YouTube Music’s number one ‘One to Watch’, Mahalia said: “What an honour. To be at the top of YouTube Music’s One to Watch list for 2019 is such a special moment for me. There are so many wonderful, talented artists on this list - many who I keep super close to my heart. As a late 90s baby, I grew up watching YouTube - constantly finding videos of artists who inspired me. I basically learnt how to play so much of what I know on the guitar from watching people on YouTube. The platform has helped me grow and build a real, personal fan base in the UK and around the world while never compromising my creativity. This recognition means so much to me, my close ones and my team. I can’t wait to share my debut album in 2019."
East London rapper, Kojey Radical said: “It feels great to be recognised by YouTube Music for my work. My music is very personal and special to me, and expresses how I feel on a number of different issues. I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds not only for me, but for my community here in London. It's an important time to lift up our voices and be heard across the UK and everywhere.”
Singer-songwriter Sam Fender mentioned: “Thanks to YouTube Music and all the fans who have been supporting us and my music. I started recording music in a garden shed not so long ago. so it’s incredible to now be recognised and heard at a global scale through YouTube. Super excited for next year, there’s so much more to come!”
Rapper, Slowthai said: “It’s a blessing to be shortlisted by YouTube Music for Ones to Watch in 2019. Love to YouTube and everyone else supporting me.”
Singer-songwriter L-Devine commented: “I’ve been discovering new artists and watching music videos on YouTube for as long as I can remember so I’m absolutely thrilled to be included in the Ones To Watch list for 2019 from YouTube Music. I have some very exciting plans for the coming year – loads more music, music videos, live shows and content for the fans – and I’m so happy that I now get to share it all with the support of YouTube!”
Irish musician Dermot Kennedy said: “This feels like such a good way to end an amazing year. Thank you so much to YouTube Music for the inclusion on this list. YouTube has been so helpful for me to go from an Irish busker and musician to reaching a global stage and having so many people hear my music and see my videos. I’m currently working on my debut album, so I really look forward to sharing that with everyone next year.”
Singer songwriter Samm Henshaw commented: “It’s been an exciting year for me, and this recognition from YouTube Music has topped it off. I’ve been touring my new music and working with some amazing artists, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 holds. Can’t wait to share my new single with everyone in January!”
Guitarist, singer and songwriter, Jade Bird said: “I’m really blown away to be included on YouTube Music’s Ones to Watch list! YouTube has been such an amazing place for me to evolve my music and gain new fans. I’ve just released my latest single Love Has All Been Done Before, and I’m currently finishing my album in America and I cannot wait to share it and much more in 2019!!!”
To explore more about YouTube Music’s Ones to Watch 2019 artist spotlight, please head to the YouTube Music App. There, you’ll be able to enjoy a brand new YouTube Music playlist featuring the Top 10 artists and our longlist, as well as an in-app spotlight, featuring additional playlist and video content.
YouTube Music is a new music app made for music listening, on top of the magic of YouTube: making the world of music easier to explore and more personalised than ever. Whether you want to listen, watch or discover - all the ways music moves you can be found in one place - not just music videos, but official albums, singles, remixes, live performances, covers and hard-to-find music you can only get on YouTube.
Azi offers the following guide to the performers:
Mahalia is our #1 artist on the YouTube Music Ones to Watch list. Mahalia is an R&B singer-songwriter who was signed aged 13, and her colourful video for ‘Surprise Me’ has hit over 8.5 million views on YouTube. She’s toured the UK three times, hitting intimate venues and festivals and joining the likes of Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sandé.
London-born, Brighton-raised, Grace Carter grew up listening to strong powerful female voices, like Lauryn Hill and Nina Simone, which has inspired her singles to date, which all stand out for their emotional and musical maturity. Grace is self-made – from song writing at school, and performing her own material at just 14, transforming her bedroom into a recording studio, and teaching herself to play piano from YouTube videos. She’s already been picked by Dua Lipa to support her on her UK tour, as well as Dermot Kennedy, Rag N Bone Man and Mabel. In terms of her own fanbase – the streaming numbers speak for themselves, Grace had only released three singles and her latest single, Why Her Not Me, has already been watched over 2.5 million times in the month since launch.
Kojey Radical is an alternative rapper from East London, making music that targets issues of race, identity and social politics. Staying true to the DIY aesthetic which forms the basis of hip hop, Radical is truly an artist. Set to headline London’s KOKO on November 20th, Kojey takes a mixed media approach in his creative projects. After being nominated for two MOBO’s in 2016, Kojey has gone on to collaborate with upcoming R&B artist Mahalia and hip hop legend Jay Prince.
Sam Fender is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter from North Shields who is fast becoming known for his sounds and lyrics about government surveillance, fake news and sexual harassment, whilst his recent single, Dead Boys, openly tells a poignant story about mental health. Sam started recording music in his garden shed, and has quickly built a strong following in the industry, with Arctic Monkeys alumnus Barny Barnicott mixing his tracks. Recently signed to Polydor Records, his first headline tour sold out within minutes, and his first EP, Dead Boys, is due for release on 20th November 2018, with much anticipation and excitement.
Slowthai is starting a cult. Slowthai speaks for and with a generation of kids who’ve been ignored for too long by the powers that be. But his cult isn’t driven by rage or nefarious intentions. It’s driven by a desire for freedom and happiness: freedom to be who you want to be, and the happiness that comes with that. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and his town on his knuckles – literally: he has Northampton’s ‘NN’ postcode tattooed across his fingers. But being from a small town hasn’t hampered his ambitions. He wants to be the example that his peers follow to break out of the mindset they’ve had foisted upon them by a society peering down its nose. Over the course of the past year, he’s released a steady string of releases, laying out the beginnings of his social manifesto: from the politically-charged ‘North Nights’/ ’The Bottom’ AA-side; to unpicking vulnerable and toxic masculinity on ‘Ladies’; living in the moment on ‘Polaroid’; and the stereotype-dismantling volley of ‘Drug Dealer’ and ‘Rainbow’. His music is unmistakably British, treading a line between grime, rap, dubstep and garage – riding rough-edged beats with an adolescent charisma and confidence that recalls buzzy pirate radio sessions and handicam freestyles. All of this is encapsulated by live shows that are drenched in sweat and spit and booming with the sound of Slowthai’s hooky flows and street-smart bars being chanted back at him.
L Devine, a 21-year-old singer songwriter from Newcastle, is on track to be your new favourite pop star in 2019. Already snapped up by Warner Bros. – and with a ten-minute-long visual EP, shot by Emil Nava, who’s worked with Selena Gomez and Rihanna, under her belt, as well as a five track EP, Growing Pains, – L Devine is a name you’re going to hear a lot next year. Her growing reputation for creating attitude-filled, melody-heavy, intelligent pop was cemented with her recent track ‘Peer Pressure’ and most recently she has returned with the second single taken from her upcoming mixtape ‘NERVOUS’ which sees her collaborate with producer SIBA (‘Like You Like That’ from her debut EP ‘Growing Pains’) and John Hill (Rihanna, MIA, Charli XCX). Her sound is instantly recognisable – it’s attitude-filled, melody-heavy, cosmopolitan pop, with stories that are written for the teenage inside all of us, no matter how old we are!
Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy merges artful storytelling with electronic beats, and his emotive melodies have been likened to Bon Iver, James Blake and Hozier, which is echoed in his brilliant latest EP, released in collaboration with infamous hip hop producer Mike Dean, entitled ‘Mike Dean Presents: Dermot Kennedy’. Still in his early twenties, he is fast becoming known as writer with sophistication, who pens lyrics akin to poetry.
Singer-songwriter Samm Henshaw is making waves with his modern twist of British soul, leading him to tour with artists such as Chance the Rapper. His latest track Doubt features Wretch 32 and the video is animated by Mason London. His music is the perfect balance between serious lyrics and uplifting instrumentals, combined with his rich vocals. Signed to Columbia Records, Samm’s love of music is rooted in his childhood from years spent singing in church.
Jade Bird who hails from a small town in north England, is a singer-songwriter, with a sound that combines acoustic guitar and pop sass with a gritty alternative edge. Jade shares a record label (Glassnote Records) with some of the biggest well-known alternative artists to breakout, including Mumford & Sons and Daughter. As well as being named as one of the 10 names in YouTube’s inaugural Ones to Watch, Jade has just returned from a sold out American tour to embark on a UK run this November which will see her play some of the UK’s most acclaimed venues, including London’s Electric Brixton. Quickly gaining a strong fan-base and following, Jade’s been described as “vivacious and chatty and frequently hilarious”, and her infectious personality and gutsy vocals have created quite the stir in the industry.
Octavian is a 22-year-old French-born, south east London-raised rapper. 2018 has been a year that has seen him forge a whole new UK sound and release a string of defining crossover anthems such as ‘100 Degrees’, ‘Hands’, ‘Little’ and his ‘Move Me’ collaboration with Mura Masa.