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Raye: From leaving label to making history at Brit Awards

British singer-songwriter Raye has capped off an impressive 12 months with seven Brit Award nominations – but the London artist has been climbing her way through the ranks for many years.

The 26-year-old Brit School alumni signed to Polydor Records as a teenager, lending her vocals to top five hits by David Guetta and Jax Jones and writing lyrics for Beyonce and Rihanna.

Despite her obvious talent, her solo work did not reach the same heights and in 2021 she expressed her frustration at her label not letting her release her debut album yet.

In a series of posts to X, formerly Twitter, she wrote: “Imagine this pain. I have been signed to a major label since 2014… and I have had albums on albums of music sat in folders collecting dust, songs I am now giving away to A list artists because I am still awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album.”

She said she had “done everything” they asked her to do, including switching genres and working long weeks.

“I’m done being a polite pop star. I want to make my album now, please that is all I want”, she said.

She was later released from her contract and struck out as an independent artist.

By the end of 2022, her dance track Escapism featuring US rapper 070 Shake had gone viral on TikTok and shot up the charts to number one.

It won the award for best contemporary song at the Ivor Novello Awards.

Ivor Novello Awards 2023
Raye won the award for best contemporary song at the Ivor Novello Awards in May (PA)

The track was followed by her debut studio album, My 21st Century Blues, which was applauded by critics and peaked at number two in the charts.

Her music spans multiple genres including pop, R&B and dance, with her powerful vocals being a stable throughout.

The album went on to be nominated for the acclaimed Mercury Prize, which celebrates the best of UK and Irish music.

At the ceremony, she told the PA news agency she found it “heavy” exploring personal emotions on the record.

She said: “I think when I was writing the songs I wasn’t even really necessarily thinking about even sharing them, it was more kind of medicine and just needing to create something to help me process certain emotions in a different light or a more positive or more empowering light if I could, which is what I think music is essentially about.

“Creating something that makes you feel better or feel great or excited or allows you to process them tricky emotions.”


The singer, whose real name is Rachel Keen, continued to gain popularity after delivering a show-stopping performance on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury last June.

She has now made Brit Award history by securing seven nominations – the most for an artist in a year.

The record of six nods was previously jointly held by animated band Gorillaz, singer Craig David and Robbie Williams.

Among her haul, she earned nods for the coveted album of the year prize and two spots in the song of the year category for Escapism and dance track Prada with Casso and D-Block Europe.

She is also nominated for artist of the year and best new artist as well as best pop act and best R&B act.

Raye said she was “completely floored” to be recognised seven times.

“I was a Brit School student and I remember how deeply I dreamed of one day being recognised at the Brits, she said.

“I am currently a mess of overwhelming emotions and confusion as to how this even happened, to be honest.”

She added: “A year and a half ago, as far as the industry was concerned, I was down and out.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I think trying again would mean seven Brit nominations.”