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Kenya Grace

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Last updated on
October 29, 2023

Kenya Grace Johnson, known professionally as Kenya Grace, has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary music scene. Born in South Africa and raised in Southampton, England, her journey to musical prominence is a tapestry of diverse influences, rigorous training, and an unyielding commitment to her craft.

Kenya Grace's early life was marked by a blend of cultures and experiences that would later inform her artistry. Growing up in Southampton, she was exposed to a range of musical genres, but it was her initial interest in musical theatre that set the stage for her future endeavors. This early exposure to the performing arts was more than just a hobby; it was the foundation upon which she would build her career.

Her academic journey took her to the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. Initially enrolled to study history and English literature, Kenya Grace made a pivotal decision to switch her focus to music. This wasn't a whimsical change of heart but a calculated move driven by her growing passion for songwriting and performance. She graduated in September 2019 with a degree in songwriting and creative artistry, a testament to her dedication and academic rigor. The institution not only honed her skills but also helped her overcome stage fright, a critical milestone in her development as a performer.

Kenya Grace's entry into the professional music world was marked by her 2019 single "Obsessed." While the song didn't chart, it was a significant first step, providing her with the experience and exposure she needed to navigate the industry. That same year, she participated in ISawItFirst, a nationwide search for new women musicians, in collaboration with Capital Xtra. Alongside Willow Kayne, she made it to the Top 21, winning a music video for her song "Tell Me Why." This achievement was a crucial validation of her talent and a sign of greater things to come.

The year 2020 saw her release "Talk," a song she penned in her parents' bedroom during the COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom. The song was a reflection of her emotional state at the time, having just exited a toxic relationship. It was also a testament to her resilience and creativity, as she continued to produce music despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

In 2022, Kenya Grace diversified her portfolio with collaborations like "Oranges," "Someone Else" with 3Strange, and "Venus" with Homebodi. Each of these tracks showcased a different facet of her artistry, from her lyrical prowess to her versatility in handling various musical styles. However, it was in 2023 that she truly came into her own.

Her 2023 single "Strangers" was nothing short of a phenomenon. Written and produced in her bedroom, the drum and bass track was initially promoted on her TikTok account. The song went viral, accumulating over 11 million views on one clip alone, and eventually being used in over 570,000 videos on the platform. Its success wasn't limited to TikTok; it also gained traction on Instagram Reels. Within a week of its release, "Strangers" entered the UK Singles Chart and eventually peaked at No. 1. This achievement made her the second British female artist to reach No. 1 with a track performed, written, and produced entirely solo, a distinction previously held only by Kate Bush for "Running Up That Hill."

Kenya Grace's artistry is a blend of influences, drawing inspiration from artists like Banks, Flume, and Nao. Her approach to songwriting is methodical; she often starts with the instrumental components before layering in the lyrics. This meticulous process has been recognized by industry experts, with the Official Charts Company describing her voice as a unique blend of PinkPantheress, Charli XCX, and Piri.

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