Celeste: Who is BBC Music Introducing’s Artist of the Year?

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Celeste Waite is being tipped as one to watch for 2020

Every December the music world looks ahead, predicting who will be breaking through the following year.

This year is no different. There’s already a wealth of “next-big-things-which-are-new-and-ones-to-watch-for-2020” lists doing the rounds.

And there’s one name popping up on all of them: Celeste.

The singer has been named BBC Music Introducing’s Artist of the Year 2019 and looks set to add to that accolade. So here’s all you need to know about the act catching everyone’s eye (well… ear).

Where did it start?

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Celeste hadn’t been to Glastonbury before playing there stage this year

The 25-year-old British-Jamaican, who grew up in Brighton, started singing around 10 years ago when she was inspired by hearing Elton John’s Your Song.

“I remember being 15 or 16… It’s quite a funny choice of song for someone that age,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

“I asked my mum to come into my room and told her ‘don’t look at me, don’t stare at me but I’m going to try and sing this song’.

“I remember her looking quite pleased. That’s when I remember having the confidence to try a bit more.”

Introducing… Celeste

She first came onto the BBC Introducing radar back in June 2014 when she uploaded her track North Circular to be considered alongside hundreds of thousands of others.

Almost exactly a month later, her soulful vocals had been picked out and played by Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1.

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BBC Music Introducing was launched in 2007 with the aim of championing new talent like Florence and the Machine

Since then she’s had countless plays across Radio 1 and 1Xtra, been invited to perform all over the world including Glastonbury and SXSW Festival in the US, and has even recorded a prestigious Maida Vale session for Radio 1.

She says her set at SXSW “felt like the start of everything”.

Speaking to Huw Stephens, after finding out she’d won the award, Celeste explained how she finds the US “a really fruitful and inspiring place” to write because it gives her an escape from any distractions she might face back home.

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Previous winners of the award include Catfish and The Bottlemen (pictured in 2014), Jack Garratt and Izzy Bizu

In February, she performed her breakout hit Strange - shortlisted for Annie Mac’s Hottest Record of 2019 - for the first time at The Lexington as part of a BBC Introducing showcase.

“You never know how you’re going to feel or how people are going to react when you play things for the first time,” she told Huw.

“It seemed like it was a memorable moment for people in the crowd too, that was one of my highlights of the year.”

Introducing and beyond…

In March 2017, Celeste released her debut EP, The Milk and Honey, which was produced by Lily Allen’s Bank Holiday Records label.

The singer then went on to sign a major record deal with Polydor in 2018. She is currently touring across Europe with Michael Kiwanuka, ahead of a headline show in April 2020 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London.

As well as her award from Introducing, Celeste is also on the shortlist for this years BRIT’s Rising Star Award and has found her way onto several other one to watch lists for 2020.

And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also picked up famous fans like James Corden, Jorja Smith and Sam Fender and also made her UK TV debut on Later… with Jools Holland in October.

Despite being tipped by pretty much everyone for big things, the singer doesn’t seem to be feeling too much pressure about what the next year has in store.

“Yes! 2020!,” she said to Huw Stephens after being announced as the award winner.

“I’ve been looking forward to this year for so long, I’ve had this number in my head for ages.”

Along with “a load more shows” Celeste is set release her debut album at some point in 2020.

But don’t hold your breath, she says it’s due “by the end of the year”.

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