About Jessie Ware
Jessie Ware has never had a master plan when it comes to her music. “When my first album exceeded expectations, everybody was like, ‘We need to make you into a megastar,’” the singer told Apple Music in 2020. “I know it came from a good place, but I was never that fussed about that.” Born in London in 1984, Ware started her career by lending backing vocals to Jack Peñate and Florence + the Machine, before high-profile collaborations with SBTRKT (2010’s “Nervous”) and Sampha (2011’s exquisite “Valentine”). That Ware’s voice was as sought after among the indie crowd as it was in dance circles is testament to this artist’s versatility. Ware’s music is at once soulful and sparse, melodramatic and restrained, centered by a voice that will always stop you in your tracks.
Ware was soon moving in her own lane. Her acclaimed 2012 debut album, Devotion, was a refreshing, timeless take on soul and R&B, shaped by icons like Whitney Houston and Sade. With a Mercury nomination under her belt, 2014’s follow-up, Tough Love, was a breathtaking collection of ’80s-inspired tracks designed to be heard as the sun comes up. As she approached her third record, however, Ware was ready to get more personal. 2017’s Glasshouse saw her team up with songwriters including Julia Michaels, benny blanco, and Ed Sheeran as she contemplated family life and motherhood against stirring confessional ballads (such as the piercing “Sam,” on which Ware sings, “And I hope I’m as brave as my mother/Wondering what kind of mother will I be/I hope she knows that I’ve found a man far from my father/Sam, my baby, and me”).
That choice of collaborators may have hinted at designs on pop superstardom, but shortly after the release of Glasshouse, Ware’s confidence began to falter. A 2018 tour across the US, in particular, left her feeling so disillusioned that her mother suggested she quit music altogether. “It was a bit of a shitty time,” the singer said. “I needed to be reminded that music should be fun. I came home and was like, ‘Right, palate cleanser, let’s go.’” That came in two guises. The first: the unstoppable rise of Table Manners, the podcast Ware started with her mother, Lennie, in 2017, on which they feed and interview celebrity guests. The second: the concept for her fourth album. “The premise was: ‘Will this make people want to dance? Will this make people want to have sex?’ It was about the mood and the groove.” The result was What’s Your Pleasure?, 2020’s glorious collection of gilded nu-disco that delivered an unbridled hit of escapism—and the confidence boost Ware needed. There may still be no master plan, but Ware—podcaster, parent, pop star—has her sights on an even brighter future. “I feel what I can do after this is limitless,” she said. “I could have easily just sacked it all off, but I feel energized and excited about the future. It's starting to feel better and better.”
BORNOctober 15, 1984