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Ethiopia-descended R&B and electro pop singer

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Washington, USA

LA-based Kelela Mizanekristos is at the forefront of the “experimental R&B” movement, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Drake and Frank Ocean. 

She’s one of my favourite vocalists out at the moment
Moxie - INDWT

Now 30, she was raised in Rockville, Maryland, the sole daughter of Ethiopian parents who emigrated to the US in the 1970s. She says her earliest musical memories are of car journeys to meet her cousins, when she would sing along to Tracy Chapman’s debut album at full volume.

Performing under her first name, Kelela’s calling card was a well-received mixtape, Cut 4 Me, released on the influential Fade to Mind label in October. The first vocal release by the label, they had hand-picked her to work with them after hearing early demos. Beyoncé is also a fan and has featured Kelela on her Beyhive blog.

Fusing sooth R&B vocals with unconventional, glitchy productions, the singer says her music is “not just weird, it's deliberately offputting”. Nonetheless, she has been compared to US chart royalty: “There is something Janet Jackson about those harmonies.” said Radio1’s Benji B in a recent interview with the singer.

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