Soho Rising: Introducing Bellah, the new princess of R&B
We meet the up-and-coming star, following her performance at Brighton Beach House as part of our music series in partnership with Bowers & Wilkins
Saturday 19 November 2022 By Gisselle Babaran
Twenty-five-year-old singer-songwriter Bellah has fast made a name for herself as the UK’s new princess of R&B with her debut EP, Adultsville, cementing her standing after its release last month. The London-born, British-Nigerian artist’s sound has the scent of the 1990s, when the genre reigned supreme and cry-into-your-pillow love songs were the only thing on our playlists. In the midst of a dance music renaissance, she’s cutting through the noise to bring back the art of raw, romantic lyricism.
Her seven-track project explores the challenges of young adulthood, with Bellah coming into her own with each song. Indeed, going from strength to strength seems to be her thing. Last year, she received her first MOBO Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Act, a coveted support slot for Afrobeats icon Tems at her UK headline show, and a COLORS performance that subsequently amassed more than one million views. In October, she celebrated Nigerian Independence Day with a show at Brighton Beach House in the UK, and next week she’ll be playing her first sold-out headline show at central London venue, The Lower Third.
Here, we catch up with the ‘Evil Eye’ singer to discuss all things music, her influences and her insatiable rise to the top.
Describe your sound to those unfamiliar with your music.
‘It’s R&B at its core, but with lots of different influences. I’m a multifaceted artist, so I really enjoy tapping into other genres.’
Who and what are your influences?
‘I love Frank Ocean, Drake, Brandy, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, ABBA, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, etc. There are so many people who have influenced the way I see my artistry. It’s clear that I really like singers with tone – I’m not the biggest belter myself.’
How is your new EP Adultsville different from your previous projects?
‘It’s just a lot more mature. I don’t just mean in subject matter, but in the sound, writing, vocals and production. I wanted to create a world that people could exist in, and I think I did that with this project.
‘My other projects have been really great and they were who I was at the time. I’d like to think that I’m growing, and so my music and sound has grown, too. I think [Adultsville] is the best project I’ve put out to date and I hope I’ll be able to say that about the next ones.’
What themes and ideas does Adultsville explore?
‘It’s about a whole lot of things. For the most part it explores change and transition. It was also this safe space for me to just complain about this weird time we’re all in.’
How do you get inspired when songwriting?
‘I’m always inspired by real-life events, mostly by good conversations with good company. That’s why I named my last project The Art Of Conversation – I really enjoy sitting down and having real, ridiculous conversations, because that’s where the songs are. I’ll be speaking to someone and something that was said will become a line in one of my tracks.’
What’s next for you?
‘I have two headline shows in November that I’m really excited for. But also, more music and more change, but the kind that I’ve anticipated rather than change that will rock my world and leave me on the floor dying. Because admittedly, that’s what happened with Adultsville. I was on the floor gasping for air, but somehow songs were coming out. Maybe that’s what was needed to make those songs. I also want to travel and tour abroad, and see who else I can reach outside of the UK.’