SHE GREW up 100 miles from London in the English East Midlands city of Leicester, but being away from the metropolis has proven an advantage for Mahalia, and her dreams of a career in music.
“I might have an advantage being from Leicester because I don’t know all the cool people in London,” the 19-year-old told Vibe.com earlier this year. “The thing about the UK is that underground music always takes over. It’s not just about the radio.”
Indeed Mahalia is clearly on a different path to her peers. Not for her the overabundance of Instagram references and chatter about designer clothes. The singer and songwriter grew up listening to Etta James, Floetry, and Aaliyah. She cites Erykah Badu, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Lauryn Hill among her inspirations and says the public is “thirsty for soul music”.
"The thing I want people to take from my music is a sense of honesty," she has said. "I always aim to be honest, real and relatable, My biggest fear is for someone to listen to my music and think I’m not being truthful.”
In 2014, she supported Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sandé on their UK tours, and performed with Labrinth and Rizzle Kicks at the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust. She has released the EPs Head Space (2012 ), Never Change (2015 ), and the mixtape Diary Of Me (2016 ). Her music is moving increasingly towards soul and r'n'b.
Mahalia plays upstairs at the Róisin Dubh on Saturday November 11 at 8pm Support is from Erica Cody. Tickets are from www.roisindubh.net, the Ticket Desk at OMG Zhivago, Shop Street, and The Róisín Dubh.