Brooklyn, NY

Ella Mai Joins Mary J. Blige and Queen Naija at Barclays Center

Antoine Maurice King, MBA, MSIT

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Ella Mai(Instagram)

The appeal of Ella Mai's smash single "Boo'd Up" from 2018 was in its joyful innocence. Although Mai's flavorful voice added something new and constantly replayable to the formula, the UK singer's big song, which peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100, aimed toward the seamless sound of '90s R&B. The famous song ensured Mai's self-titled debut, which veered from breathy ballads to ascending vocal runs and occasionally to dull finishes, a double-platinum certification. However, she stood out among a new wave of musicians drawing on the history of R&B and giving it a contemporary twist because of her rich, textured voice and dedication to the retro sound.

Ella Mai recently spoke about the success of her first album.

"This era is a mature version of myself," she said. "I'm still the same me, but it's just more of an elevated version. People seem to forget I was 23/24 when I released Ella Mai. I'm 27 now, and I've changed so much as a person—I'm a woman now! I experienced a lot that my younger self couldn't relate to."

She also talked about her four-year break from music.

"I would be getting people messaging, like, 'Are you still doing music?' and I'm like: 'Hmmm… Yeah!' I feel like in this social media era, it's very fast-paced and people tend to lose attention quite quickly. We listen to one thing, then we're ready for the next straightaway. It's not like rap where you can drop an album then next year drop another project. R&B doesn't fit that realm. You have to take your time and do it properly."

Ella Mai returned with her sophomore album four years after her first.

In particular, when she sings of falling head over heels in love, Mai establishes herself as a tenacious force on her second album, Heart on My Sleeve. The album, which was executive produced by dependable partner Mustard, gives her lovestruck style additional tactile aspects by putting acoustic guitars and strings front and center more frequently than rhythms. Thankfully, Mai does away with the depressing spoken-word outros in favor of the sporadic guest appearances. Mary J. Blige provides backing vocals and inspirational words on the vulnerable song "Sink or Swim," Gospel icon Kirk Franklin and his quartet appear for a filled church service on "Fallen Angel." Mai has created a strong follow-up that focuses on her abilities as a vocalist and composer by pushing into rich, percussive material and assembling colleagues that compliment her style.

Ella Mai fans can catch her performing live with Mary J. Blige and Queen Naija at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York October 20th, 2022.

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Antoine Maurice King, AABA, BSIT, MBA, MSIT, is the founder of Spate Media and digital marketing, business, and technology expert. With over 15 years of business and marketing experience, he has worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment. Antoine currently works as a business consultant and educator on a variety of different types of projects. He loves writing about local events, music, business, technology, and people doing great things in the community. If you know of any great people doing good things in the community or any stories you think should get attention, feel free to let me know.

Bronx, NY
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