Jessie Reyez is a singer-songwriter from Toronto who, whilst she has been building a fan base over the last couple of years, looks set to become a big name in the music industry very soon. This is not simply because of the talent and individuality of her raspy yet beautiful voice, nor the moreish nature of her songs; rather, the things she writes about have a real resonance, and her use of genre – her songs seem to play with ideas of R&B, ballads and even the occasional bit of rap – means that her music feels really fresh and young.
I was already a fan of Reyez prior to 2017 due to the two singles she had released, ‘Figures’ and ‘Shutter Island’, both of which detail the difficulties of a one-sided and unhealthy relationship, but 2017 signaled an increase in hype around her and in her musical output, which can only signal good things to come. She released her debut EP Kiddo (which has been streamed more than 30 million times) in April, was nominated for two separate awards at the iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards, and featured in Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 on the song ‘Hard To Love’, all of which shows the way her once-small audience is growing rapidly.
Perhaps the most successful and intriguing of her songs is ‘Gatekeeper’, a song that she realised with an accompanying short film which she co-wrote and acted in. The song tells the true story of an experience Reyez had when she was first trying to get into the music industry, in which she was propositioned by an unnamed but apparently prominent music producer in exchange for a record deal. The song is powerful, poignant and heartbreaking and, whilst it was released before the Weinstein scandal, particularly resonant since the revelations regarding the widespread nature of sexual harassment and abuse in all careers. The song is an example of Reyez’s unusual level of candidness which make her songs refreshing and, in this case, groundbreaking. She may not have been one of the silence breakers named in Time’s Person of the Year, but it is clear when listening to this song that she is prepared to use her voice to expose the more unpleasant sides of the music industry, and as such is incredibly welcome in the contemporary climate.
Jessie Reyez is a singer to watch because of her rawness, the beauty of her voice and musical talent, and her building presence in the last year standing as a testament to the success that will inevitably follow her in the years to come. Reyez has shown many layers to her talent, but it is clear that there is much more to come, which I personally cannot wait to see.
Jessie Reyez is signed to FMLY. Her debut EP, Kiddo, is out now. Check out more of The Edge‘s List for 2018 here.