Ella Mai

About Ella Mai

The UK has long been in the business of breaking American stars then selling them back to the States. But in summer 2018, America flipped the script, making London-born singer Ella Mai—best known at the time as a footnote in X Factor audition history—the first British artist to top the R&B charts since Lisa Stansfield in 1992. Mai was born two years after Stansfield’s milestone, in the genre’s heyday, and was raised on Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Destiny’s Child, and Mariah Carey. It showed in the flirtatious softness of the tracks she started releasing with mentor and producer DJ Mustard. One particular song off her Ready EP proved a runaway success, leaping to the top of the Billboard R&B chart: “Boo’d Up” was unapologetically smitten, a featherlight antidote to the UK’s heavy weather that summer. Her subsequent self-titled debut album made explicit nods to R&B history while also developing Mai’s own artistic stamp, which included singing raw lyrics about revenge, flaws, and vulnerability. As the headlines around her 2018 hit showed, Mai is in the business of making history, not just mining it.

London, England
November 3, 1994
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