Ella Mai

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Ella Mai
Ella Mai 2019 by Glenn Francis.jpg
Born
Ella Mai Howell

(1994-11-03) 3 November 1994 (age 25)
London, England
NationalityBritish
Occupation
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active2014–present
Musical career
Genres
InstrumentsVocals
Labels
Associated acts
Websiteellamai.com

Ella Mai Howell (born 3 November 1994) is an English singer and songwriter. Her singing career began at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in London in 2014, during which time she auditioned as part of a trio on the 11th season of The X Factor. In 2015, she uploaded a four-track solo EP of originals to SoundCloud titled Trouble, and was discovered on social media by American record producer Mustard and signed with his record label, 10 Summers Records.

From 2016 to 2018, she released three EP's on the label, including Time, Change, and Ready. Her self-titled debut studio album was released in October 2018 and featured the singles "Boo'd Up" and "Trip", which were released on 20 February 2018 and 3 August 2018, respectively. In 2019, "Boo'd Up" was nominated for two Grammy Awards: Song of the Year and Best R&B Song, winning for the latter, as well as Mai herself being nominated for British Breakthrough Act at the 2019 Brit Awards.[1] At the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, she won three awards, including the award for Top R&B Artist.[2]

Early life[edit]

Ella Mai was born on 3 November 1994 to a Jamaican mother and an Irish father[3] in London. According to the singer, her mother, a lover of American jazz music, named her after Ella Fitzgerald.[4] Mai moved from London to New York City at the age of 12 and graduated from Queens High School of Teaching in Glen Oaks, Queens, before returning to England.[3]

Musical career[edit]

2014–2017: Career beginnings and EP trilogy[edit]

Ella Mai's singing career began studying at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute London (BIMM London) in 2014. During that time she competed on season 11 of The X Factor as part of a trio, Arize, but didn't advance beyond the initial audition for the judges. The group broke up shortly thereafter. The following year, Mai uploaded a four-track solo EP of originals to SoundCloud titled Trouble. After being discovered on Instagram, she signed to DJ Mustard's label, 10 Summers Records and Interscope Records.[5]

In February 2016, she released Time, the first in her EP trilogy. The six-track EP included the single "She Don't", which featured Ty Dolla Sign.[6] She released her second EP, Change, in November 2016 and third, Ready, in February 2017.[7] "Boo'd Up", which was featured on the EP, rose in popularity on social media as well as in nightclubs over the next few months.[8] Ella Mai toured with Kehlani on her SweetSexySavage World Tour.[9] After Mai served as the opening act on Kehlani's tour, her music reached a bigger audience and the song grew on radio airplay in the spring of 2018.[10]

2018–present: Self-titled debut album[edit]

On 26 April 2018, she released a music video for "Boo'd Up" after it started to gain popularity.[11] The song became her first top ten song in the US in the following month, deeming it her "breakthrough hit."[12] Rolling Stone wrote that the single is "one of the biggest singles by a breakout female R&B singer in the past 10 years."[13] The single peaked at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100,[14] and broke the record for the most weeks at No. 1 of any song by a woman on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.[15] On 14 August, she joined Bruno Mars on the 24K Magic World Tour after Cardi B dropped out.[16] On 3 August, she released the single "Trip", with an accompanied music video releasing on 18 September.[17] The song peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ella Mai released her self-titled debut album, a 16-track set featuring "Boo'd Up", on 12 October 2018, with guest appearances from Chris Brown, John Legend, and H.E.R.[18] The album sold 69,000 album-equivalent units with 17,000 coming from pure sales.[19] On 22 October 2018, Mai announced her debut tour set to begin in January 2019.[20][21]

In November, she made two guest appearances on JID's song "Tiiied", along with 6LACK and on Meek Mill's song "24/7", on the albums Dicapiro 2 and Championships respectively. On 18 November, she performed on Saturday Night Live with Jezebel describing Mai as "Pure '90s R&B Heartthrob".[22][23] She was also nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best R&B Song and Song of the Year with "Boo'd Up", winning for the former.[24] "Boo'd Up" would go onto to win the 2019 Billboard Music Award for Top R&B Song.[25] In 2019, Mai won the Billboard Music Awards for Top R&B Artist and Top Female R&B Artist.[26]

In 2020, Mai received her third nomination for the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album for her self-titled debut at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

Artistry[edit]

In multiple interviews, Ella Mai names Lauryn Hill, Chris Brown, Brandy, Destiny's Child, Alicia Keys, and Mariah Carey as her biggest influences.[27] Vibe said her "perception of the powerful emotion is kindred to R&B heartthrobs of the ‘90s, who flooded the radio airwaves with soulful ballads, baby-making tunes, and heart-wrenching break-up anthems."[28] Rolling Stone described her sound as "a British émigré full of self-confidence and an affinity for classic Nineties R&B."[29]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions, sales, and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
UK
[30]
AUS
[31]
BEL
(FL)

[32]
CAN
[33]
IRE
[34]
NLD
[35]
NZ
[36]
US
[37]
US
R&B/
HH

[38]
US
R&B

[39]
Ella Mai 18 19 94 16 55 31 7 5 4 1

EPs[edit]

List of extended plays with selected details and chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
US
[44]
US
R&B
/HH

[45]
US
R&B

[46]
US
Heat.

[47]
CAN
[48]
Time[49]
  • Released: 15 February 2016
  • Label: 10 Summers
  • Format: Digital download
Change[50]
  • Released: 18 November 2016
  • Label: 10 Summers
  • Format: Digital download
35 20 6
Ready[51]
  • Released: 22 February 2017
  • Label: 10 Summers
  • Format: Digital download
29 15 3 25 86
"—" denotes items which failed to chart.

Singles[edit]

As lead artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
UK
[30]
AUS
[52]
CAN
[53]
IRE
[54]
NZ
[55]
US
[56]
US
R&B
/HH

[57]
US
R&B

[58]
US
R&B/HH
Airplay

[59]
US
Adult
R&B

[60]
"She Don't"[61]
(featuring Ty Dolla Sign)
2016 Time
"10,000 Hours"[62] 2017 Change
"Lay Up"[63]
"Naked"[64] 17 Ella Mai
"Boo'd Up"
2018 52 46 43 85 8 5 4 1 1 1 Ready and Ella Mai
"Trip"[67] 47 77 78 22 11 6 1 1 1 Ella Mai
"Shot Clock"[70] 2019 [A] 62 27 3 5
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
UK
[30]
UK
R&B

[72]
NZ
Hot

[73]
US
[56]
US
R&B
/HH

[57]
US
R&B

[58]
US
R&B/HH
Airplay

[59]
US
Adult
R&B

[60]
"24/7"
(Meek Mill featuring Ella Mai)
2018 66 22 21 54 25 3 Championships
"What You Did"[74]
(Mahalia featuring Ella Mai)
2019 90 29 [B] 19 16 7 Love and Compromise
"Don't Waste My Time"[76]
(Usher featuring Ella Mai)
19 24 28 16 Non-album single
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Promotional singles[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
UK
[30]
AUS
[52]
NZ
[77]
US
Bub.

[75]
US
R&B
/HH
Bub.

[78]
US
R&B

[58]
"Whatchamacallit"
(featuring Chris Brown)
2018 84 66 21 3 1 7 Ella Mai

Other charted songs[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
NZ
Hot

[79]
US
Bub.

[75]
US
R&B
/HH
Bub.

[78]
US
R&B

[58]
"Good Bad" 2018 18 Ella Mai
"Sauce" 20 23
"Everything"
(featuring John Legend)
23 14
"Gut Feeling"
(featuring H.E.R.)
31 21 9 11
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Shot Clock" did not enter the NZ Top 40 Singles Chart, but peaked at number 26 on the NZ Hot Singles Chart.[71]
  2. ^ "What You Did" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number 24 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[75]

Guest appearances[edit]

Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"10,000 Hours"[80] 2016 DJ Mustard Cold Summer
"Hit Me Up"[81] 2017 Chip League of My Own II
"This X-Mas"[82] Chris Brown Heartbreak on a Full Moon (Deluxe Edition): Cuffing Season - 12 Days of Christmas
"Talk to Me, Pt. II"[83] 2018 Craig David The Time Is Now (Deluxe)
"Tiiied"[84] JID, 6LACK DiCaprio 2
"24/7" [85] Meek Mill Championships
"Love Me Like That (Champion Love)" N/A Creed II: The Album
"Put It All on Me"[86] 2019 Ed Sheeran No.6 Collaborations Project

Tours[edit]

Headlining[edit]

  • The Debut Tour (2019)

Opening act[edit]

Acting[edit]

Apart from her music, Ella Mai also performed a sketch on Nickelodeon's All That (which aired on 27 July 2019) called "Boo'd Up", a paranormal parody of The Dating Game, in which she played herself as a contestant looking for a ghost to haunt her family home, but instead of choosing the three suitors offered, she chose her former ghost who came back and she forgave him.[87]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Year[A] Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Category Result Ref.
American Music Awards 2018 Herself Favorite Female Artist — Soul/R&B Nominated [88]
"Boo'd Up" Favorite Song — Soul/R&B Nominated
BET Awards 2019 "Trip" Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award Won [89]
Billboard Music Awards 2019 Herself Top Female Artist Nominated [90]
Top New Artist Nominated
Top R&B Artist Won
Top R&B Female Artist Won
"Boo'd Up" Top R&B Song Won
"Trip" Nominated
Ella Mai Top R&B Album Nominated
BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards 2019 "Boo'd Up" Winning Song Won [91]
Brit Awards 2019 Herself Best Breakthrough Act Nominated [92]
Grammy Awards 2019 "Boo'd Up" Song of the Year Nominated [93]
Best R&B Song Won
2020 Ella Mai Best R&B Album Nominated [94]
iHeartRadio Music Awards 2019 Herself Best New R&B Artist Won [95]
R&B Artist of the Year Won
"Boo'd Up" R&B Song of the Year Won
MTV Video Music Awards 2018 "Boo'd Up" Song of Summer Nominated [96]
2019 "Trip" Best R&B Nominated [97]
Soul Train Music Awards 2018 "Boo'd Up" Song of the Year Nominated [98]
The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter's Award Won
Video of the Year Nominated
Herself Best R&B/Soul Female Artist Won
2019 Ella Mai Album/Mixtape of the Year Nominated [99]
"Shot Clock" Song of the Year Nominated

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Indicates the year of ceremony. Each year is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daly, Rhian (12 January 2019). "IDLES, The 1975, and Dua Lipa amongst stars nominated for 2019 BRIT Awards". NME. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ Lynch, Joe (1 May 2019). "2019 Billboard Music Awards Winners: The Complete List". Billboard.
  3. ^ a b "Chartbreaker: Ella Mai Can't Believe How Huge 'Boo'd Up' Has Become: 'I Have No Words'". Billboard.com. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Ella Mai Makes The Music That We Can't Stop Listening To". Nylon.com. 24 March 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
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  9. ^ "DJ Mustard signee Ella Mai is 'Ready' to be a household name in R&B [Interview] – EARMILK". Earmilk.com. 20 March 2017.
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  52. ^ a b Peaks in Australia:
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  72. ^ Peak positions for UK R&B Singles Chart:
  73. ^ Peaks on the NZ Hot Singles Chart:
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External links[edit]