jorja Smith deserves all your attention


It’s difficult to describe a storm to someone who’s never seen one or experienced it for themselves. Either the adjectives you use fail to adequately encapsulate its destructive power, or you oversell just how terrifyingly awe inspiring it was. This is akin to attempting to tell someone about Jorja Smith is like. A beautifully destructive songstress, a belter of ballads, and a writer par-excellence.

We had the chance to go see Jorja perform at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, as the last stop of her sold-out tour. This is an older venue, with gilded ceilings, and tight walls that make concert goers feel like they’re inside of a shoe box that was used as an art project. The air was hot and muggy, and it didn’t help that the place was packed to the veritable rafters. But then Jorja came on, and all that didn’t matter. Her voice was powerful and expressive, buttressed by a live band that was good enough that you would come to a show just to hear them jam. Her crowd knew all the words by heart, and sang them lustfully. This wasn’t Coachella where you have 19 year olds who have never heard an Outkast song past Hey Ya, jumping around unrhythmically and fist pumping to a beat manufactured in their heads. Somehow all the way on the west coast, this felt more like a reunion of friends, happy for the success of their burgeoningly popular mate.

Jorja’s music has a unique ability to be applicable to groups across a wide spectrum. Even with a song like “Teenage Fantasy,” the top layer might be directly applicable to a younger audience, but the underlying theme is universal. The idea that we want what we can’t have, and cast it aside like table scraps when we get it? That’s a truism across age and culture. For an artist as young as her to be able to effectively touch on that, is what marks her as someone we should continue to watch out for.

Now let me go listen to “Somethin in the Way” for the 50th time in a row.



Jotham Ndugga-Kabuye