The night before her Kendrick Lamar collaboration drops, Jorja Smith brings her sell-out UK tour to the Invisible Wind Factory. Soulfultiz checks out an artist on the cusp of domination. 

Jorja Smith is just 20 years old, and this is her first ever UK tour. It is sold out.

That would be enough to signal a dramatic rise, but consider that the first song she uploaded to SoundCloudBlue Lights, written for a school project – was sampled by Dizzee Rascal on Sirens, that a month later Drake played it on his radio show, and that literally the morning after this show took place, Kendrick Lamar dropped his Black Panther soundtrack, on which she features. This is the kind of rise that up and coming artists can only dream of.

Naturally, she has been nominated for all the usual “up and coming” awards; BBC Sound of 2017, current winner if the BRITS Critics Choice Award etc. But of course, the live stage is the true test of any artist.

Smith captivated the crowd from the moment she walked on stage. When she sings, it is almost as if everything else disappears. There is only her and the song, a world all of her own.

The crowd naturally mostly came alive when she sang her most well-known songs, such as On My Mind (her duet with Preditah) and the aforementioned Blue Lights. But it was her versatility that shines through, and her talent is undeniable.

Her debut album comes out in June, and if performances like this are anything to go by, she is bound for superstardom.

Though, at times it was apparent that she was a star in the making, rather than a star ready to take her place. Her stage presence didn’t quite match that of support act Mahalia, who was frankly contagious.

A bright new talent from Leicester, Mahalia has been tipped to be big in 2018, and by tonight’s showing it is pretty evident why.

She is an open book, engaging with the crowd by sharing a string of the personal relationship experiences that lead her to write many of her songs. She is a powerful, confident young artist and her lyrics speak of pain and strength. Her youthful energy conveys hope and speaks to a generation which can relate to her.

At one point she performed acapella, which was absolutely breath-taking, as once her performance of new single, Proud of Me and her upcoming releases.

The set ended with Sober – which has over 5.8million views on YouTube. She is definitely someone on the rise, and our top tip would be to catch her at Manchester’s Band on the Wall next month.