Having come up in the South London music scene, songstress Ego Ella May was influenced by artists such as Stevie Wonder and Amy Winehouse. Possessing a voice that evokes shades of Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu and Kissey, May has proven to be one of the most poignant and haunting artists in future soul. Her first name, “Ego,” derives from her parents’ Nigerian culture, and “Ella May” comes from a fusion of iconic jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald with a familiar name in British parlance, “Ella May.”
Listen to five essential tracks by Ego Ella May.
May would start singing in her late teens, and by age 19 would teach herself how to play guitar, immerse herself in beat making and produce her own material. She would release a series of self-produced EP’s that garnered much attention in London and abroad and would combine those experiences into a proper anthology album release titled “So Far,” featuring the track “Underwater.”
2. “How Far”
With May’s poetic songwriting and lyrical voice on full display, she would create a buzz around herself as an artist who could craft an alluring brand of understated, yet expressive soul-rooted R&B. Her music showed a refreshing penchant for veering into new and interesting directions, birthing new genres while shifting old genres into new territory. This is clearly evident in “How Far,” another single from the album, which would reinforce these sensibilities.
3. “Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys”
The COVID-19 pandemic would drastically impact the music industry and essentially shut down live music and concert touring. Some of the ensuing social issues that would emerge during this time related to social injustice, racist caste systems, police brutality and other societal ills that would fuel May’s creativity.
She would emerge with a timeless, magnum opus in the form of the album “Honey for Wounds,” a collection of musical torch songs that provided a template for reflection, redemption, healing and escape. It essentially was a musical salve and balm that she applied to the commentary of the day with deeply emotive lyrics that pushed the needle of social discourse against a beautiful, melodic backdrop of otherworldly sounds provided by an all-star lineup of associate producers, including Theo Croker, Wu-Lu, and Alfa Mist. “Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys” is one of the 11 tracks that would appear on this album.
With its assured and ethereal mix of jazz, soul and R&B, “Honey for Wounds” would prove to be a beautiful listen and bring a sense of calm and healing while reflecting a unique vulnerability that addressed dark social commentary. It would be globally lauded as a breathtaking coming of age music experience that effectively married her sultry voice with dreamy production values. For her next release, “FIELDNOTES,” featuring the track “YoYo,” May would journey inward and explore interpersonal relationship dynamics, with her smooth vocals laid against her now trademark compelling instrumental work.
5. “Introvert Hotline”
With her 2022 release “FIELDNOTES PT II,” May continues to be an integral part of the South London jazz and soul scenes, sitting at the head of the class with other like-minded artists such as Joe-Armon Jones, Oscar Jerome and Andrew Ashong. Her ability to blend the worlds of progressive soul, jazz and bluesy electronics into a beautiful immersive experience is cohesive, compelling and unique. Her revolutionary act is simple – make music that is not just heard, but felt. And that revolution starts when you press play.