Mahalia is an alt-R&B/soul artist who counts Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill among her biggest influences. The singer and songwriter made her recorded debut in her early teens, by which point she had already attracted major-label interest. She went on to sign with the Asylum label, where she has issued the albums Diary of Me (2016) and the considerably more individualistic Love and Compromise (2019), the latter of which peaked within the Top 30 of the album chart in her native U.K. Mahalia has also issued a handful of EPs including Isolation Tapes (2020).
A native of Leicestershire, Mahalia Burkmar is the daughter of musicians -- her mother was in Colourbox circa the 4AD group's 1982 debut, and her father toured with Erasure -- and 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, the independent 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 and was her debut for major-label Asylum.
In 2016, Burkmar had an acting role in the U.K. crime film Brotherhood and released her first album, Diary of Me. She followed it 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" and "Grateful," along with the number 46 U.K. hit "Simmer," followed in early to mid-2019, before the release of debut album Love and Compromise that July. Featuring production from DJ Dahi and Sounwave, the LP matched Mahalia's buttery vocals with a shifting set of romance-led lyrics and peaked on the U.K. album chart at number 28. In 2020, she was featured beside Ty Dolla $ign on Jacob Collier's "All I Need" and released Isolation Tapes, a three-track EP. ~ Marcy Donelson & Andy Kellman