HelloBeautiful.com’s “Base Level” column features the hottest new artists we’re buzzing about. Before they make it to the summit of superstardom, we spot them at base level–the beginning of their hopeful journey to the top.
You remember Mali Music, right? He was the tall, chocolate brotha who captivated the BET audience in 2011 with his electrifying performance at “Music Matters.” Courtney, his 9-5 name, lives and breathes the experiences that go into creating Mali’s Music. With that three minute performance, the southern boy was able to merit the attention of industry heavy weights like Akon and get a record deal just a few months later. Sweet!
Mali stopped by our HelloBeautiful offices to chat for a bit. Unlike other artists, Mali hopes to use his musical influence to give listeners another option, offer them something new, change up their musical diet a bit. And with his keen story telling abilities coupled with his wide music knowledge, we’re definitely hungry for what Mali has cooking.
Name: Kortney Pollard
Hometown: Savannah, GA
Who are your musical inspirations? Bilal. Cee-Lo and OutKast. They gave me freedom. The first thing I appreciated about creativity was anyone who was free enough to be themselves. I was inspired by that and new immediately that was what I wanted. Especially watching concerts of Michael Jackson, him just expressing himself and people just eating that I up, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
When did you know music was your passion? It’s confirmed and affirmed to me everyday, but there was a moment when I was sitting in front of the T.V. with my sisters and my cousins and we were watching Michael Jackson “Budapest” and I was seeing everything that he was emitting and the fact that, that many people who may not have known him personally still understood it, that’s when I said ‘that’s it!’
What Has Been Your Biggest Break Thus Far? I think one of the best opportunities I had was to sing at the BET awards 2011. I sung “Job Experience” at the BET Music Matters stage and my career changed after that. The next morning I was sitting across the table from Akon having a meeting and the next couple of months I signed with RCA.
If you were the love child of any two artists-dead or alive-who would they be and why? Bob Marley would be my father and Regina Specktor would be my mother. That’s why I am what I am. I love the story. I’m a story teller and its eventually going to get back to that point. I love the story telling of folk music, creativity and classical piano feel, but the soul and passion. It’s a very weird and eclectic blend, but that is me.
Watch his new video “Beautiful”
This California native teased us last year with her sensual hit "Ecstasy" but she' back to take 2014 by storm. With her DJ Mustard produced single "2 On" featuring TDE's ScHoolboy Q, this R&B songstress proves she's taking no prisoners.
2. Elijah Blake
Blake went from working at BlockBuster to writing Usher's No. 1 hit "Climax." Now the singer-songwriter is gearing up to expand his musical resume, which included penning Rihanna's "No Love Allowed" Under the mentorship of hit producer No.Id, it's only a matter of time before Blake's soothing voice floods your radio.
3. Mara Hruby
If you're in dire need of relaxation, just listen to Mara Hruby's EP "From Her Eyes" While the project is covers of everything from D'Angelo's "How Does It Feel" to Norah Jones "Take Off Your Cool" the West Cost native puts her enchanting voice on it, to craft a sound all her own.
Kelela brings a breath of fresh air to the musical landscape. With her urban-alternative sound, this Ethiopian beauty debuted her project Cut 4 Me to rave reviews. With singles such as "Guns & Synths" and "Enemy", Kelela's sound violently shakes up the musical landscape to offer a well-needed rejuvenating sound.
You know him as that voice. The voice behind Drake's "Too Much" and Beyonce's "Mine" but when this London native released his mixtape Dual, he proved that he can stand on his own two. With singles such as "Too Much" and "Happen" Sampha has only given us a taste of what's to come in 2014.
6. Maryann Vasquez
You need Maryann Vasquez in your life and you don't even know it. The singer/songwriter released her project "Due" and the five song EP is a fusion of pop and R&B but its her honest songwriting abilities with her undeniable voice that helps to raise the musical bar.
This Malaysian lawyer turned singer is a unique fusion of pop soul. Think Fiona Apple meets Lauryn Hill. With her sophomore debut "Nocturnal" which features production from Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, Yuna is sure to open the window on music and let in some well needed fresh air.
This Queens, New York native has such a robust voice, you wonder how she's able to carry it around in her petite 5'2 frame. But the Princeton graduate evokes a soulful sound, which echoes of her musical inspirations Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. But with her album "Ayahuasca" fans will wonder how they've made it this far in their life without having her on their iPod.
This L.A Based Trio has secured a fan base so loyal, one would think they've been on the scene forever, but King's soothing brand of soul and R&B has catapulted the group to super star status in what seems like a matter of months. With their newest single "In The Meantime" fans can't help but fall in love with their melodic sound.
10. Gary Clarke Jr.
Hailed as this generations Jimmi Hendrix, Gary Clarke Jr and his electric guitar burst onto the scene to take his place among the rock Gods. With his album "Blak And Blue" The Austin, TX native combines rock and blues to craft a sound so rebelious it became infectious. After earning himself a Grammy nod just by being himself, one can only hope he continues his musical reign for the new year.
11. Eric Bellinger
Can he sing? Yes. Can he perform? Absolutely! Is he a cutie? Umm, duh! Singer-songwriter Eric Bellinger is part of a new crop of R&B artists showcasing a vocal prowess unlike any other, Bellinger incorporates a new school sound with classic R&B fundamentals.
The things Daley is able to do with his voice should be illegal, but this 24 year old British soul singer is one import we're here for. With his singles "Broken" and "Alone Together" Daley is sure to solidify his place in R&B, and his naturally curly pompadour is a plus!