Jorja Smith was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy Award this year, a career milestone that would please pretty much any entertainer. Somehow, the singer wasn't even aware of the event's date until after she booked a show on the same day - on the other side of the globe. Her world revolves around a tight group of people.

“I’ve just always done it this way,” she told The Guardian. “I did a distribution deal for my album, but I’ve always been independent without a major-label record deal. And I’m fine. I just feel the same as I was when I moved to London. My team has got bigger, but it’s still really small. How can you have problems when you’re doing what you want and no one’s actually telling you no? Not that no one’s telling me no. But no one’s telling me, ‘You must do this!’ or, ‘You can’t do this!’”


Steve Granitz/WireImage

Jorja's tendency move through the world as she pleases may have been born out of a difficult period. During her teenage years, insecurities rose from the way her physical features were perceived by her peers. “All my friends were white, they were all slim and had long hair,” says Smith. “I didn’t want to have big lips or a bum. In school you’re so confined to a small space and the boys like the blonde girls and they didn’t like me. But it’s all right, I got over it.”

Though she loves her independence, Smith has found joy and inspiration in collaborations with other artists. She's still relieved that the dating rumors sparked by her connection with Drake have ended. People aren't asking her strange questions about, say, his scent for instance.

“It was never part of my plan to work with Kendrick or Drake or Kali, but they just added to everything,” says Smith now. “Because then I got opened up to a whole new Drake world, a whole new Kendrick world, and a Kali world. So I got new fans from it and maybe they were waiting for me to put a project out and then they liked that, hopefully.”