Winner of BBC Music Sound Of 2021 revealed

Coventry rapper Pa Salieu has been named the winner of the BBC Music Sound of 2021 poll.

The 23-year-old, who released breakout track Frontline in January last year, was selected by a panel of 160 industry experts and artists including Billie Eilish, Stormzy and Jorja Smith.

He follows in the footsteps of previous winners including Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding and Adele.

Pa Salieu (BBC/PA)

Grantham-raised singer Holly Humberstone took second place on the annual list, while Trinidad-born singer and rapper Berwyn was third.

Neo-soul singer Greentea Peng was at number four and Griff, one of The Ivors Academy’s rising stars, was at five.

Reacting to his win, Salieu said: “I was just really happy to even be included on the list alongside some amazing artists, a few of who I know personally.

“They’re all crazy talented, so to be the winner of something like this so early in my journey just feels mad.”

BBC presenter Annie Mac said: “I’m delighted for Pa Salieu winning the prestigious Sound of 2021. As a man whose childhood was split between The Gambia and Coventry, he has a unique perspective on Britain.

“His songs are exquisitely produced, with enough restraint for Pa’s voice to shine through and have the space to tell the stories of his life.

“They are stories of friendship and family, of violence, exclusion and racism and they act as timeless evidence of British street life at the turn of a new decade.”

Hyundai Mercury Prize 2019 – London
Annie Mac (ian West/PA)

Born in Slough, Salieu spent his formative years in The Gambia before moving to Coventry at the age of eight.

His home city was the inspiration behind Frontline – the most played track of 2020 on BBC 1Xtra – and his debut mixtape Send Them To Coventry.

Released in October, the 15-track collection takes its name from the idiom meaning to ostracise someone and explores Coventry’s status as a forgotten city in rhyme.

His recent single My Family featuring BackRoad Gee also made the longlist for Mac’s Hottest Record Of The Year 2020.

Other acts that had been in the running for the award include drill rapper Dutchavelli, pop-rocker Alfie Templeman and indie band The Lathums.

The Sound Of poll started in 2003 and last year Celeste claimed the top spot.

The top five artists for BBC Music Sound Of 2021:

1. Pa Salieu
2. Holly Humberstone
3. Berwyn
4. Greentea Peng
5. Griff

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