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When Ella Mai was handed the phone by her manager last year she had no idea who was on the other end. The first song I wrote from the album is “I Wish I Missed my Ex.” It was this really weird journey because I’d just broken up with my boyfriend.

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ELLA MAIElla Mai Howell (born 3 November 1994) is an English singer and songwriter. Her singing career began at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in London in 2014, during which time she auditioned as part of a trio on the 11th season of The X Factor In 2015 she uploaded a four-track solo EP of originals to SoundCloud titled Trouble, and was discovered on social media by American record producer Mustard and signed with his record label, 10 Summers Records.


Once upon a time, Mai was one of the numerous individuals who post short clips of themselves singing covers of famous songs on their social media accounts. In fact, this was how she got noticed , thus enabling her to embark on a music career of her very own.

The 24-year-old British R&B singer’s very sold-out concert Thursday at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, however, showed there’s a lot more to Mai than that one clever earworm of a tune — not quite enough yet to fully round out her 90-minute performance, but more than enough to expect even bigger things.

Mai wore a billowy, fluorescent-yellow overcoat throughout the performance, which seemed to emphasize her already bright, cheery, swaying stage presence. In contrast to how the jacket looked, her three-piece band sounded thin and underwhelming, and her two backup vocalists seemed to be conspicuously backed up with pre-recorded vocals in some of the songs.

Chris Riemenschneider has been covering the Twin Cities music scene since 2001, long enough for Prince to shout him out during “Play That Funky Music (White Boy).” The St. Paul native authored the book “First Avenue: Minnesota’s Mainroom” and previously worked as a music critic at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas.

All of which would have seemed at best unlikely to the Ella Mai kicking around south-west London hotspots such as Mitcham, Merton and Wimbledon Chase in the early 2000s. Let’s just say, tourists on future Ella Mai sightseeing tours won’t be in for the most exciting afternoon of their lives. (Ella’s summary: It’s very residential and then there’s … nothing.”) She would play football on Saturdays, and on Sundays she’d be in church with her grandmother, a minister in a pentecostal church. Ella’s parents had split when the kids were young; Ella says that when it came to raising Ella and older brother Miles, mum did all the work”.

Later included on Mai’s self-titled debut LP, Boo’d Up” climbed to No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and won Best R&B Song at the 2019 Grammy Awards. Her single Trip” went on to hit No. 11 in the Hot 100.

Eventually, the family moved back to the UK and Ella scored a place at music college. Somewhere in her mum’s house is an old softback (but not flimsy”) Paperchase notebook containing Ella’s earliest ideas. I’ll probably look back on it and go: ‘Oh my God, what was I doing?’” she laughs. But back then, I took it everywhere I went. It was like a sacred piece of equipment.” These days, she writes song ideas into her phone.

And while her big hit is undeniably among the album’s best tracks, there’s more to love on the rest of the tracklist – though whether any of them have those same charts-topping earworm powers remains to be seen.

I was really trying to relate our songs to all the other female collaborations that I loved. I was thinking about Brandy and Monica, and just all the moments where I’ve lived it. It was nice that we were collaborating in a way where we were both teaming up together to say the same thing about somebody. Because even when I think about “The Boy Is Mine,” it’s the most amazing collaboration, but it’s two women against each other.

is a gritty R&B-trap song that strays from Mai’s usual style. The songs that work on Ella Mai let her vocal ability shine. But, when the production overwhelms her crooning, the songs turn into tracks any R&B artist could sing.

Mai moved through songs diligently, hitting the quick, climbing notes in “Cheap Shot” with precision alongside a deceivingly laid-back tempo. The momentum of the lyrics clashed with the relaxed pace of the track in the best way and showcased her quick wit and confident sass. Her first a cappella sequence capped off two of her biggest singles, “Shot Clock” and “Boo’d Up.” Just like a mesmerizing Grammy performance, the hushed-but-brimming room hung on every independent note as Mai flexed her smooth and robust chords.

10. Ella Mai’s hit single ‘Boo’d Up’ went platinum in June 2018. The group split up and Ella Mai did what many people have done to try for a career in music – started to upload covers onto Instagram. When a song by a newcomer blows up as big as Ella Mai’s Boo’d Up” has, there’s always a chance it can put the artist on a one-way road to one-hit-wonder status.

Chart-topping success aside, Ella Mai has also had an amazing reception on the awards circuit. In 2018, she took home the Soul Train Awards for Best New Female and Song of the Year (Boo’d Up) and, last month, “Boo’d Up” yielded her Best R&B Song at the 61st GRAMMY Awards. Ella has been nominated for three iHeartRadio Music Awards and four NAACP Awards, including the prestigious Outstanding Album. The UK native will vie for Best Rnb, Hip-Hop & Grime and Rising Star at the 2019 Global Awards. In addition to her newly announced tour dates, fans will have the chance to catch Ella Mai performing live at Coachella this April. Ella will also be joining Ariana Grande on the European leg of her Sweetener tour which kicks off in London on August 17 at the 02 Arena.

An R&B singer and songwriter with a casually commanding voice, Ella Mai wasn’t exactly an unknown artist before DJ Mustard signed her to his 10 Summers label, but the U.K. native hit the mainstream in 2018 with breakthrough single “Boo’d Up,” a sparkling slow jam that increased in popularity throughout the year. The single led to her Top Five self-titled debut album, which arrived that October and was followed shortly thereafter by a Grammy win for Best R&B Song.

Seems like Ella Mai just can’t have her song to herself. Whether she’ll finally win over UK audiences with her debut album is uncertain. However, the British singer isn’t showing signs of slowing down in the US anytime soon.

The 21-year-old Leicester, England, native has been writing songs since she was a tween and signed to a major label at 13, but it took years for her to figure out her path in the industry. Last month, she finally released her debut album, Love and Compromise, which details the myriad different phases of modern dating: falling in love, being jealous, getting ghosted, holding grudges after a breakup—all with her signature songwriter-meets-R&B sound. It’s upbeat, smooth, soulful, and undeniably joyful, even when she’s singing about heartbreak.

Grammy winner Ella Mai, 24, shined well beyond the hit at a sold-out Varsity Theater gig. Casually commanding R&B vocalist and songwriter whose 2018 single “Boo’d Up” went Top Five pop and was nominated for two Grammys.

One of the people who became interested in Mai because of her covers on social media was the American producer DJ Mustard. In fact, he was so interested that he asked her to come to a studio session to see what she could really do when it came to making music of her own rather than just covering other people’s songs, which was an opportunity that Mai took up with obvious enthusiasm. The experience proved to be positive enough that Mai was soon signed with DJ Mustard’s record label, which gave her considerable creative freedom to make her music her music in the truest sense possible.

The 25-year-old just welcomed her second child into the world and followed-up on the congratulatory moment with a front-row seat to see Ella Mai perform. Yung is clearly a big fan of the British bred singer since she knew all the words to her international hit “Boo’d Up.” However, it’s Yung Miami’s singing voice that’s caught the attention of her fans. As you can hear, Yung is hilariously off-key and isn’t afraid to show it. “The reason y’all hate me 🤣 but the reason I love me ❤️🥰😍,” she captioned the video.

An R&B singer and songwriter with a casually commanding voice, Ella Mai wasn’t exactly an unknown artist before DJ Mustard signed her to his 10 Summers label, but the U.K. Here, the British singer talks to about her debut album, not giving up, and falling in and out of love.

Now, she’s just released her excellent self-titled debut album, which comes as she’s playing occasional arena dates with Mars, including a show Oct. 26 at Staples Center, and putting herself in front of members of the Recording Academy, whose votes for Grammy nominations are due by the end of the month.

The deep-in-her-feelings Ella Mai of “Boo’d Up” and “Trip” is a much different Ella Mai than the femme fatale we hear on “Shot Clock.” Her previous singles may have been about love moving at dizzying speeds, but here, she’s impatient about one that’s going too slowly, barely containing her impatience as she presses her romantic counterpart to make a move.

Her next single, ‘Trip’, followed in the footsteps of ‘Boo’d Up’, another slick slice of dreamy R&B, that soared to the top of the Billboard US R&B chart. Last week, Mai released her debut album, one that showcased a noticeable maturation in her sound. Whilst boasting some stellar, future radio hits; the album also included a handful of A list collaborations with John Legend, H.E.R. , and one of Mai’s musical heroes, Chris Brown.

Ella Mai performs during this month’s American Music Awards. dick clark productionsThe nominations for the 2019 American Music Awards will be announced Thursday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America. Right now, Ella Mai’s Boo’d Up is number four on the American Top Songs chart on YouTube and is also sitting comfortably at number seven on the Billboard charts.

Ella Mai broke out with her Grammy-winning Boo’d Up” released on her third EP, Ready.” Her clean vocals mixed over DJ Mustard’s club-ready beats evoke traditional R&B sounds of the past, wrapped in anthemic lyrics of love and heartbreak.

I started writing it last January. When I first started writing, I didn’t realize that I was writing an album. I was just writing music. The first song I wrote from the album is “I Wish I Missed my Ex.” It was this really weird journey because I’d just broken up with my boyfriend. I was writing loads of music and I wrote that song. And then the year carried out. As I was navigating my way through single life, through falling into and out of dating, I realized I was writing my album just purely because of how much I was going through.

It’s been … a lot,” the young R&B singer originally from England said over a cup of tea around 10 p.m. the other night. Nestled at a corner table in a Glendale café, she wore sweats and a baggy Supreme hoodie, her hair pulled into a tight bun atop her head.

Originally raised in southwest London, Mai moved to New York at the age of 12, then returned to England after she graduated from high school. In 2014, during her second stint in the U.K., she competed on The X Factor as part of a trio, Arize, that didn’t advance beyond the initial audition for the judges. The group broke up shortly thereafter. The following year, Ella Mai uploaded a four-track solo EP of originals to SoundCloud, but it was through her short clips of covers on Instagram that DJ Mustard found her. In January 2016, the producer announced that he had signed her, and the following month, she released Time, a poised EP of sleek, contemporary R&B. Featuring the Ty Dolla $ign collaboration She Don’t,” the six-track release introduced an artist who could sing of fierce loyalty and ruthless spite in an incisive manner.

From 2016 to 2018, she released 3 EP’s on the label, including Time, Change, and Ready. Her self-titled debut studio album was released in October 2018 and featured the singles “Boo’d Up” and “Trip”, which were released on 20 February 2018 and 3 August 2018, respectively. In 2019, “Boo’d Up” was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Song of the Year and Best R&B Song, winning for the latter, as well as Mai herself being nominated for British Breakthrough Act at the 2019 Brit Awards. At the 2019 Billboard Music Awards she won three awards including for Top R&B Artist.

Stevie Wonder is another of Mai’s favorite artists, and she remembered the shock of a surprise phone call from the Motown legend. On Wednesday, the singer released a remix version of the song featuring Nicki Minaj and Quavo.


Ella Mai’s last 18 months have been whirlwind even by pop’s always-on standards. The London-born singer’s breakthrough single, the fizzy Boo’d Up,” had a slow burn — Mai originally released the track, produced by the in-demand DJ Mustard, on a 2017 EP — but it eventually became one of 2018’s defining singles, its plush grooves and pillowy synths providing a soft landing for Mai’s fluttering alto and the song’s incessantly catchy, heartbeat-mimicking chorus.

Whilst studying at London’s BIMM music college there was a stint on The X Factor in a girl group. We did the live TV audition and got four yes-es and we were really excited. Then we got to Wembley and got four no-s, the tables completely turned”. But it was producer DJ Mustard who’s worked with Rihanna , Travis Scott , Post Malone and more sliding into Mai’s Instagram DMs that ended up being her golden ticket.

Enter Ella Mai, the 23-year-old British singer with a debut self-titled album out Friday, who landed a song of the summer this year with her surprise hit “Boo’d Up.” She’s following Cardi’s template for success quite literally, signing on to Bruno Mars’ arena tour after Cardi dropped out. She spent the summer courting breathless press coverage and getting in front of viewers’ eyeballs with several award show performances, releasing a follow-up single “Trip” in August ahead of this week’s new album.


Mai participated in the ESPN summit because of her love for soccer, which she played for nine years until she decided to focus on music. A fast-rising, 24-year-old R&B singer from London, Ella Mai just earned a Grammy for her single “Boo’d Up.” She played a sold-out show at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.

Courtesy of ESPN ImagesElla Mai idolizes Alicia Keys, so when the Girl on Fire” star performed Mai’s breakout hit Boo’d’ Up” at the Grammys this year, Mai admits she cried in her seat. Ella Mai’s ties with the US go back to her childhood, when she lived there for five years.

Despite the nerves, the session went swimmingly. I was apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect but he was super chilled and didn’t make me feel pressured. He just gave me a folder of beats and told me to pick what I wanted and do what I wanted with them. I think he just wanted to watch my process.” In fact, the session went so well that there were follow up meetings in Los Angeles, and then six months later Mai signed to his label, 10 Summers Records. It was a fruitful pairing, with the duo releasing three acclaimed EPs filled with slinky R&B jams (the latest, ‘Ready’, contained the chart dominating ‘Boo’d Up’).

Bood’ Up” offers a good introductory taste of the infectious, repetitious flavor in many of Mai’s songs. Heavily inspired by rappers — and intermittently one herself — she has a keen knack for infusing rhythmic hip-hop infections into her hooky pop melodies. Other prime examples of this intoxicating blend on Thursday included her braggadociously sassy Sauce” groover early in the set and the Lauryn Hill-flavored romp Own It” later on.

See below for a list of Ella Mai’s GRAMMY Awards history. 2. Ella Mai’s song ‘Boo’d Up’ became her breakout hit in the summer of 2018. This is the accolade that dominated the UK coverage of 23-year-old Ella Mai’s breakout single ‘Boo’d Up’, the sultry jam that conquered US radio stations this summer.

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