Soul singer fired after ‘pulling sickies to write songs’ wins BBC Sound of 2020

Celeste has scooped the top spot, following in the footsteps of Corinne Bailey Rae and Octavian

SOUL: Singer Celeste has been named BBC's Sound of 2020

A SOUL singer who was fired from her job after she ‘pulled sickies to write songs’ has been named as BBC’s Sound of 2020.

Celeste Waite, known professionally as Celeste, was announced as the winner today, following in the footsteps of Ray BLK, Michael Kiwanuka and Corinne Bailey Rae.

The 25-year-old British-Jamaican singer – who wrote her first song, Sirens, aged 17, in memory of her father who died of lung cancer a year earlier –
was chosen by a panel of 170 influential music experts, including alumni artists Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi as well as DJs, radio and TV producers, journalists, streaming experts and festival bookers.

Born in Los Angeles but raised in Brighton, Celeste was recently named as BBC Music Introducing Artist of the Year 2019 after performing on Introducing stages at Glastonbury and SXSW festivals in 2019, and picked up the Brits rising star award in December.

But before her big break she was fired from her job because she kept calling in sick to write songs.

“I’d rather call in sick and go to the studio than have the money for that month,” she told the BBC.

Celeste said: “2019 was an incredible year for me and I could never have predicted half of the things that happened. Some of my favourite memories have been the live shows. From performing Strange for the very first time at the Lexington for BBC Introducing, going live with Annie Mac from Maida Vale, to Jools Holland. I’m so grateful for every opportunity I’ve had so far and am looking forward to what 2020 will bring.”

This year she is set to embark on a headline tour across the UK.

BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac said: “Celeste is a phenomenal talent – a voice that does not come around often and, when you are exposed to it, is impossible to ignore.

“I have received countless emotional texts from listeners who have had to sit in their car and lose themselves to her song Strange before carrying on with their evening. Her songwriting is personal and poignant but with universal appeal. I think she could easily join the long list of Sound Of winners who went on to be global stars. I can’t wait to hear more from Celeste and all of our longlist in 2020.”

The top five artists for Sound of 2020 are:

  1. Celeste
  2. Easy Life
  3. Yungblud
  4. Joy Crookes
  5. Inhaler

Since it was established in 2003, the BBC Music Sound Of has aimed to showcase the most exciting emerging musicians.

Last year, Octavian, who was up a selected from a pool of artists including Mahalia and slowthai, became the first UK rapper to take the BBC Sound of crown.

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