By KORRENA BAILIE
On paper, Katy B is an unlikely candidate as the fresh, populist face of dubstep – she’s a graduate of the famous BRIT School in London – notable stablemates include Kate Nash, Jessie J, Adele and Amy Winehouse. People took notice when she was featured prominently on Magnetic Man’s eponymous debut; it was her sultry, soulful vocals that elevated Crossover and Perfect Stranger into significantly better sums of their parts. Magnetic Man recorded a session for BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge and Katy B’s striking, restrained vocals, intermingling with a string quintet, leaves the listener feeling haunted and, most importantly, impressed by her vocal maturity.
Her debut solo single, “Katy on a Mission”, produced by Benga and stamped with his indelible touch, reached the UK Top Ten; her follow-up, Lights On, a lively collaboration with Miss Dynamite, was also a top ten success, establishing Katy B as one of the most exciting dubstep artists out there. It was clear to her label and her growing base of fans that she wielded the difficult-to-achieve balance of artistic integrity and populist appeal. Her latest single, Broken Record, a surprisingly mature paean of longing and desire, got plenty of radio play and alongside a deluge of media acclaim. Katy B’s debut album, On A Mission topped out at number 2 on the UK charts.
She’s not about to be pigeon-holed though – she has stated that great music transcends genre politics and counts Erykah Badu and Jill Scott as early inspiration; the pleasingly sophisticated timbre of her voice would be at home in any number of genres. Also, at the ridiculously tender age of 21, she has plenty of time ahead of her. With swathes of Europe eating out of her hand, and Magnetic Man’s success exposing her to an audience of enthusiastic international fans, she’s destined to be unignorable in 2011 and beyond.
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