“Don’t want to feel ya, don’t want you on my mind.” Well Jorja… the other night I felt every bit of what you were displaying. About a year ago, I was chilling with my best friend Luke, (most of you may know him as Lukey Lenz), and as usual, it was his turn to make the music selections. Since Luke has always had top of the line mobile speakers, when new tunes come on, you can hear every ounce of what’s being played. Whether it’s the bass, the vocals or any other aspect of the song, there is no place for them to hide.
Due to the aforementioned, when sounds aren’t very pleasing, it’s painfully obvious but when sounds are crisp, it’s one heck of a time. After about an hour of listening to Luke’s playlist, a very familiar song began to play. It only took me a few seconds to realize the song was “Superman” by Black Coffee featuring Bucie. I’ve heard it so many times because it’s one of my mother’s favorite house tracks. The first line of vocals began and I realized something was a little different. At that moment, my exact words to Luke were, “Bro, this isn’t Bucie.” He said, “Yeah, this is Drake featuring Jorja Smith.” From that moment on I’ve been listening to Ms. Smith.
Jorja’s style is quite dynamic. Her voice glides effortlessly over minimalistic instrumentation but she also has the artistry and spunk to deliver on tracks like “On My Mind,” a fan favorite. Last Wednesday, I had the chance to see her live as her tour made a stop in Baltimore for the night.
Chicago native, Ravyn Lenae opened up the show and she was just about a perfect fit for the vibe and energy of the night. Her band was down right funky and they knew it too! Everyone on stage was rocking and all on one accord. Lenae had a lit up sign behind her that read “Ravyn Lenae.” The sign’s font looked as if it was from a 1970s skating rink. What truly impressed me about Lenae were two things— her sheer ability to sing and how comfortable she appeared on stage. Her technique is one that she undoubtedly works on and fine-tunes. See as though she is only 19, I think many young artists should check out her command of the stage and take notes— I surely did.
Once Lanae completed her set, the place was buzzing with excitement waiting for Jorja to appear. After several moments of suspense, her drummer, bass guitarist, lead guitarist, and keyboardist all began to walk on stage one-by-one. Then came Jorja.
Photographer Madeleine McQuillan and I had both discussed and debated what kind of outfit she would wear. For some reason, I thought Jorja would perform in tennis and something simple and Madeline thought the contrary and she was completely right. Jorja came out in a beautiful black dress and red heels that single handedly caught the crowd’s attention. I’ve been to many shows and sometimes the audience does not always focus on the stage the entire time. This may have been one of the only shows that I have attended where it seemed as if everyone was completely glued to the stage at all times.
During the first few songs, Jorja seemed to really be warming up and adjusting to everything around her— the audience, the ambiance and maybe even the lighting!
This made her very human— not fabricated or forced, it was all very natural. As the show progressed, she became immensely loose and ready to party and Baltimore loved every bit of this— especially during her bursts of dancing. Her personality shined brightly through her singing, her smile and connection with the music.
Clearly, this was a situation where the audience could tell that Jorja knew every bit of what she was singing. These songs weren’t just sounds to her, they were stories and stories that she needed to tell. During the latter half of the show, Jorja walked off the stage letting her phenomenal band take over for a while. The musicians had a chance to shine but the drummer, Femi Koleoso stood out the most for me. He was precise and passionate with every beat on the drum. I couldn’t help but yell in amazement during his solo.
Jorja returned to the stage and performed a few songs and then left the stage once again. We all realized she had not performed her hit On My Mind, and we just knew she had to be coming back. I don’t want to give away any more spoilers for those who might see her during her “Lost & Found” tour, but the way she constructs On My Mind will blow your mind. All in all this was quite the solid performance, a 9.8 out of 10 in my book!
Jorja, keep being great!
Follow Jorja Smith on Instagram @jorjasmith_