As 2012 slowly peeled away, another gem in the British pop crown was revealed in the soulful form of Jessie Ware. This year she's set to shine in all her glory after her Brit Awards nomination last night, and anyone who has any doubts about that can ask Katy Perry, who predicts her fellow songstress is "going to be massive". Comparisons always weigh on new artists, and they can either help or hinder. Given that Jessie's name trips off the tongue punctuated by a 'Sade' here or an 'Adele' there, a bit of contextual reference is no bad thing. A closer look at the rising star and such comparisons seem downright logical.
Like her friend Adele, Jessie hails from South London and possesses a powerhouse voice that grinds female heartbreak down into creative gold dust. Standouts from her 2012 debut Devotion include the track Running – "about a bad boy", she says knowingly – and Wildest Moments, a lament to those relationships that run hot, then cold and back again. Like Sade, she's just got soul. "Annie Lennox and Sade both influenced my sound," Jessie tells HELLO! Online. "They make wonderful music and manage to be relevant and have families, and that's appealing to me. My thing is about mixing music with heartfelt experiences and lyrics, it's about blending the two worlds. "So far, so creative. And the singer herself is a source of pleasant contradictions; a blazing passion for music fires up a conversation that could otherwise be taking place over a glass of Rioja – which she loves by the way.
The artistic temperament you would expect from such a fierce voice might lurk in there somewhere, but for the moment it's being bounced jovially along on the shoulders of an open, honest – and quirky – personality. Our 'Rioja' session reveals, for example, that Jessie is afraid of the dark. "I sleep with the light on, but I'm getting better," she admits, laughing.
Jessie has a US trip lined up to take her music to fresh ears. "The next step is trying to crack America. I just want to see if things work out, so I'll be touring there and playing the album live. You never know if they're going to like you, so we'll see what happens. It's looking good though." While she's there, the diva can check in with Katy Perry and Russell Crowe – who have both reached out to Jessie via Twitter. "Twitter is a funny place," she says. "You have access to A-listers and I swear, I never thought I'd see the day when I would be chatting to Russell Crowe about my music. "Katy Perry also tweeted, and that got my YouTube hits up. They're both in a powerful position because they have so many followers, so for them to talk about my music is generous and sweet." With such ambition, talent and planning all working towards conquering the industry on both sides of the Pond, you can't help but wonder how organic artists like Jessie feel about the vertiginous heights of fame that the X Factor generation can reach almost overnight.
"I don't have a problem with it, but it's a very different direction to the one I'm taking and actually, it puts singers in a very hard position. They go straight to the top of the charts and the pressure to stay there is huge. The X Factor produces some great voices, but it differs from what I'm doing." So that's the plan for Jessie? There's no pressure that isn't self-imposed, and Ms Ware can continue her deliberate, sensual and soulful seduction of an industry poised to fall right into her arms.
Interview & Report: Andrea Maltman