Mahalia is an alt-R&B/soul artist who counts Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill among her biggest influences. The singer and songwriter made her recorded debut in her early teens, by which point she had already attracted major-label interest. She went on to sign with the Asylum label, where she has issued the albums Diary of Me (2016) and the considerably more individualistic Love and Compromise (2019), the latter of which peaked within the Top 30 of the album chart in her native U.K. Mahalia has also issued a handful of EPs including Isolation Tapes (2020). A native of Leicestershire, Mahalia Burkmar is the daughter of musicians -- her mother was in Colourbox circa the 4AD group's 1982 debut, and her father toured with Erasure -- and started writing songs and playing the guitar as a preteen. Burkmar drew the interest of major record labels by the age of 13 and released her first collection, the independent Head Space EP, in mid-2012. After taking some time to finish school and hone her sound, Mahalia re-emerged in 2015 on Rudimental's single "We the Generation" and performed with the group on Later...With Jools Holland. Her second EP, Never Change, followed that December and was her debut for major-label Asylum. In 2016, Burkmar had an acting role in the U.K. crime film Brotherhood and released her first album, Diary of Me. She followed it in 2017 with appearances on festival stages in the U.K. and a series of collaborative singles, including "Hold On" featuring Buddy, the Maths Time Joy-produced "No Pressure," and in early 2018, "Proud of Me" featuring Little Simz. Following the singles "No Reply," "Water," and "I Wish I Missed My Ex," Mahalia issued the five-song Seasons EP in late 2018. "Do Not Disturb" and "Grateful," along with the number 46 U.K. hit "Simmer," followed in early to mid-2019, before the release of debut album Love and Compromise that July. Featuring production from DJ Dahi and Sounwave, the LP matched Mahalia's buttery vocals with a shifting set of romance-led lyrics and peaked on the U.K. album chart at number 28. In 2020, she was featured beside Ty Dolla $ign on Jacob Collier's "All I Need" and released Isolation Tapes, a three-track EP. Mahalia kicked off 2021 with the Rico Nasty collaboration "Jealous."
© Marcy Donelson & Andy Kellman /TiVo
© Marcy Donelson & Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released September 6, 2019 | Atlantic Records UK
Not yet out of her teens and already put through the showbiz wringer, Mahalia considered leaving music after the 2016 release of Diary of Me, a full-length the singer, songwriter, and guitarist (perhaps tellingly) termed a project, not an album. The next year, Mahalia rebounded when the single "Sober" took off through social media, and on a semi-regular basis well into 2019, she continued to release new singles evincing total rejuvenation. Some of those songs appear on this, what Mahalia considers her true first LP. It continues to nudge the artist in a more commercial direction -- collaborators higher in profile, no songs written with her parents, and almost no acoustic guitar -- without forsaking her young-woman-next-door character. She's paired smartly with a crop of U.K. and U.S. producers whose collective work includes sessions with Jazmine Sullivan, Elle Varner, Jorja Smith, and featured artist Ella Mai, consequently securing her position in a hip-hop soul lineage that can be traced back to the likes of Caron Wheeler, Mary J. Blige, and Lauryn Hill. Mahalia's accounts of opposing and moving past unsuitable male behavior, seeing beyond her faults and persuasively bigging-up herself, are distinct and flow as freely as the hooks that embellish them. No matter how detailed the productions get, they don't obstruct the vocals, which are consistently dynamic without being showy. Going by the natural charm of the album and the fun Mahalia seemed to have in making it -- the smile cracked in the chorus of "I Wish I Missed My Ex" is the clearest evidence -- she might only be getting started. © Andy Kellman /TiVo