Here at IndustryMe we dig deep into who Yola is and what makes her so successful.

After completing some serious soul searching, I reach the end of my journey and finally discover who I really am and what I want in life.  This past year has been all about self-improvement and U feel I have achieved this well.  Given Yola’s past, I think she has gone through a similar process as she continues to work on herself and puts her heart and soul into her music.

Who is Yola?

Yola on her album Stand For Myself and Baz Luhrmann's Elvis film

 

For those who don’t know Yola, she is a sassy, confident soul sister who mixes funky R&B with sweet pop melodies as well as adding in some western country vibes, which I think is something unique.  Yola is originally from Bristol in the Southwest of England and it is believed that her family tried to discourage her from getting into music because of their poor background.

Life wasn’t always easy for Yola as she grew up with a single parent who was trying to keep their head above water due to money struggles and they always seemed to be on the brink of becoming homeless, it got to the point where her mother went to supermarket bins for food.  Her mother didn’t want a say in her music career whatsoever which in my opinion is a real shame as no matter what your children decide to do in life you should be supportive of their choices regardless of whether you feel it is right for them.  

The feeling of being disregarded was hard for her to swallow but in the end, it made Yola more determined to pursue her dreams and used this for inspiration in her songs, nothing was getting in her way of being a star.  She eventually went to London for University; however, this wasn’t her main priority as she seemed to have spent all her student money on trying to become a professional musician.

How music started for Yola

During her successful career, Yola has been nominated for four Grammy Awards in the Best New Artist category.  She first got into music by playing some gigs that were primarily within the jazz and rock genre of music.  These genres allowed Yola to develop her vocal style, which is both hard, soft, smooth, and raspy.  This proved to be difficult for Yola as she struggled to find a range her voice could fit in with.

In the early days of her music career, Yola was the frontwoman for hire and feature vocalist which landed her songs that were produced by DJs such as Duke Dumont and Sub Focus. She also worked at Replay Heaven a production company in London as a vocalist, writer, and arranger.  Yola went on to work with local musicians when she returned to Bristol and formed a band called Phantom Limb.  Unfortunately, the band broke up in December 2012 and this led to the completion of 2 albums across 8 years.

Yola later discovered her sound and created 3 fantastic albums which were Orphan Offering EP (2016), Walk Through Fire (2019) and Stand For Myself (2021). She also had singles that did well in the charts.

What made Yola so successful was despite her personal situation at home, she was getting recognised by producers within the pop and EDM genres. Although she was given opportunities to be creative it just wasn’t what she wanted.  Yola picked up a guitar and put pen to paper and began writing songs that she wanted to sing and that’s when her life suddenly turned around.

Thoughts on the new album

Yola: Stand for Myself Album Review | Pitchfork

Album artwork – Yola’s Spotify

‘Stand For Myself’ is extremely powerful and full of soul.  The songs have a personal touch to them as they tell stories of black feminine strength through vulnerability as well as heartbreak and love which are both relatable and inspiring to all. Her vocals are so beautiful they make each track on the album sound incredible, the songs are very relaxing and will make anyone want to sway from side to side, there are a couple of songs that are full of disco grooves and euphoric gospel sounds which help bring sunshine to a rainy day.

The message from the album is clear if we stand by ourselves and acknowledge our complexities then we can truly be alive.  Life is a precious gift and I am blessed to be here every day.  Standing by yourself can also help give you time to recollect your thoughts and look at how you can improve yourself.  No matter what issues you have going on whether it be financial troubles or something else life is worth living because there will be bad times but also lots of good times with loved ones where we celebrate and come together sharing memories and just being happy.

Artists like Yola are needed in the world as they bring hope and solidarity to all black women, Yola raises awareness through her songs that will help black women be represented more.  Yola has amazing talent and it is definitely something that needs to be heard.  Yola inspires people with her background and how she became a musician and hopefully this will encourage others like Yola to follow their dreams.

What’s next for Yola

I think Yola will continue to be a phenomenal artist and will go on to win many awards in the future, I also feel like another album could be on the cards and even a tour.  IndustryMe hopes that Yola will continue being herself and will make more magnificent tunes.

Listen to Stand For Myself by Yola here: