By Jack M. Angelo, senior content producer
In general, the Grammies are not the best measure of artistry. Their picks for winners are often proven to be shortsighted, and the nominees left out are often some of the most important artists of their generation. For those who are severely out of the loop however, the institution can still serve as an introduction to artists that may have flown just under the average music listener’s radar.
For whatever reason, the Grammies have decided to double their potential winners for Best New Artist this year. The nominees vary from country singer Luke Combs; to Led-Zeppelin-sound-alike Greta Van Fleet; to young pop icons like Bebe Rexha and Dua Lipa; to R&Band neo-soul newcomers like H.E.R. and Jorja Smith, the latter of whom is currently on tour with Chicago’s talented Ravyn Lenae. The UK native’s tour stopped at Ram’s Head Live for Smith’snfirst trip to Baltimore on December 12, 2018.
After Ravyn Lenae’s heavily decorated and passionate opening set—plus a long break—the Brit’s band was applauded as they set up their instruments. Specific names were even heard shouted from the crowd, demonstrating the audience’s familiarity with Jorja’s band. After a short instrumental introduction, Jorja Smith took the stage in a black dress adorned with sequined roses to a thunderous roar fitting for a crowd twice the size of the mostly full Ram’s Head venue.
Jorja’s fans continued their volume during her set, with many of the most passionate in the front rows loudly screaming along to each lyric Smith crooned. Jorja’s music and personality have earned her a ravenous group of fans that would gladly see her win every Grammy for which she could possibly be nominated. Jorja took a little time during the concert to speak to the crowd, mostly in gracious terms, expressing her gratitude for their intense passion. Jorja danced and sang along to her own music, endearing her further to her fan base.
Briefly leaving the stage did not fool anyone in the audience, who quickly began to chant her first name until the encore began. Fan favorites like “Let Me Down” garnered huge reactions from the audience and a venue-wide sing along. Jorja Smith’s vocal prowess was often drowned out by the enthusiastic wailing from the hundreds in front of her.
If the Grammies have done anything this year in the Best New Artist category, they have chosen some of the most fanatic fan bases, and it’s not just Greta Van Fleet. Jorja Smith has a lot of room to grow as an artist, but has truly caught something special in her music and performance that is worth acknowledging.
These incredible photos from Jorja Smith’s show at Ram’s Head Live, in Baltimore, MD, on December 12, 2018, were taken by StayUp.News senior content producer Jack M. Angelo: