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Ray BLK 2 – splash! Festival 20 (2017).jpg
Background information
Birth nameRita Ekwere
Also known asRay Blizzy
Born (1994-08-02) 2 August 1994 (age 28)
OriginCatford, South London, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • rapper
Years active2015–present
LabelsUniversal Island Records

Rita Ekwere (born 2 August 1994),[1] better known under her stage name of Ray BLK (pronounced "Ray Black"), is a British singer and songwriter who was born in Nigeria, and grew up in Catford in London. She won the BBC's Sound of 2017, and was the first unsigned artist to do so. On 28 October 2016, she released her debut mini-album, Durt, and in January 2018 signed to the UK branch of Island Records. Her debut full-length studio album, Access Denied, was released to critical acclaim in October 2021.


Ray BLK, whose real name is Rita Ekwere,[2] was born in Nigeria and moved to London when she was about four.[3] She grew up in Catford.[3] At the age of 13 she formed a music group with her school friend MNEK called "New Found Content".[3] She studied for a degree in English literature at Brunel University, and her dissertation was on post-colonial Nigerian literature, focusing on the novels of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Adichie.[3] She worked in an advertising agency to sustain her music career in its early days.[2]

Her stage surname BLK stands for Building Living Knowing, which she describes as her three main values.[4]

Music career[edit]

Ray released her first recordings while studying for her English degree.[2] Her debut EP Havisham was released in 2015.[3] Inspired by Miss Havisham's story in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, it told the tale of a girl who turns against men after having her heartbroken.[3] According to Ray "I felt like Miss Havisham was like a lot of women around me, who got their heartbroken and turned cold and began to hate men."[3] Ray releases music on her own label and has avoided signing a record deal to retain the rights to her music.[3] In 2016 she self-released her debut mini-album Durt, featuring collaborations with Stormzy, Wretch 32 and SG Lewis.[4] Her single "My Hood" is a song about her home town of Catford. She wrote it at a time when she had just been robbed, and she felt like she just wanted to leave.[3]

She was nominated for best newcomer at the 2016 MOBO Awards.[5] On 6 January 2017, Ray was announced as the winner of the BBC's Sound of 2017.[2]

In 2019, Ray BLK was the opening act for the UK leg of The Nicki Wrld Tour, the headlining tour by American rapper Nicki Minaj.

In November 2019, she released a song called "Action" with rapper Chip, then went on to teasing more music with 3 snippets on Instagram from her upcoming debut album which will be released in 2021.

In July 2021, she released the single "MIA" featuring American singer Kaash Paige and announced that her debut album Access Denied would be released on 17 September 2021 through Island Records, later delayed to 1 October. Upon release the album attracted critical acclaim and was listed as one of the best albums of 2021 by NME.[6]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details
Access Denied


Title Details
  • Released: 28 October 2016[8]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download


Title Details
  • Released: 15 March 2015[citation needed]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download


As a lead artist[edit]

Title Year Album
"5050"[10] 2015 Durt
"My Hood"[11]
(featuring Stormzy)
"Chill Out"[12]
(featuring SG Lewis)
"Patience (Freestyle)"[13] 2017 Non-album singles
"Doing Me"[14]
"All Or Nothing"[15]
(with Naughty Boy & Wyclef Jean)
2018 Bungee Jumping
(with Yogi & Maleek Berry featuring Kid Ink)
Non-album single
"Run Run"[17] Empress
"In My Bed"[19] 2019 Non-album singles
(featuring Chip)
"Lovesick"[21] 2020 Access Denied
(featuring Giggs)
"Dark Skinned"[23]
(featuring Kaash Paige)
"Over You"
(featuring Stefflon Don)

As a featured artist[edit]

Title Year Album
"The Apprentice"[24]
(Gorillaz featuring Rag'n'Bone Man, Zebra Katz & Ray BLK)
2017 Humanz
"Flat Champagne"[25]
(Dan Caplen featuring Ray BLK)
Flat Champagne – EP
"Scared of Love"[26]
(Rudimental featuring Ray BLK & Stefflon Don)
2019 Toast to Our Differences
"Daily Duppy (Relate)"
(Big Tobz featuring Ray BLK)
2020 Issa Vibe
"Need You Tonight"
(JP Cooper featuring Ray BLK)[27]
2022 She

Promotional singles[edit]

Title Year Album
"Mama"[28] 2018 Empress
"LOVE."[29] Non-album single
"Paradise"[30] 2019 Empress

Other charted songs[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Rubber Bands"
(with Nines & Skrapz)
2018 61 Crop Circle

Guest appearances[edit]

Title Year Artist(s) Album Credits
"Beautiful Day to Die"[32] 2015 TE dness April Showers 2 Featured artist
"Love's Intervention"[33] 2016 Kojey Radical 23Winters
"2Am"[34] Courage Get Some Courage, Vol. 1
"Busy"[35] 2017 NEW GEN New Gen
"Not for The Radio"[citation needed] Tinie Tempah, MNEK Youth Background vocalist
"Rubber Bands"[36] 2018 Nines, Scrapz Crop Circle Featured artist
"Crew"[37] RAYE, Kojo Funds Side Tape
"Skr on Em" 2020 Dutchavelli Dutch from the 5th


  1. ^ "Rita Ekwere". Companies House. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Mark Savage (6 January 2016). "Sound of 2017: Unsigned soul singer Ray BLK wins". BBC News.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mark Savage (6 January 2016). "BBC Sound of 2017: Ray BLK interview". BBC News.
  4. ^ a b "BBC Music Sound of, 2017 – 1st Ray BLK". BBC Music.
  5. ^ "Ray Blk bags a ticket to stardom with BBC Sound of 2017 award". London News Online. 6 January 2017.
  6. ^ "On The Cover - The 50 best albums of 2021". NME. 10 December 2021. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Access Denied by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 17 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Durt by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 28 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Empress by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  10. ^ "5050 - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 17 December 2015.
  11. ^ "My Hood (feat. Stormzy) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 5 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Chill Out (feat. SG Lewis) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 29 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Patience (Freestyle) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 6 January 2017.
  14. ^ "Doing Me - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 8 June 2017.
  15. ^ "All Or Nothing - Single by Naughty Boy, RAY BLK & Wyclef Jean". iTunes (UK). 18 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Baby (feat. Kid Ink) - Single by Yogi, Maleek Berry & Ray Blk". iTunes (UK). 2 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Run Run - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 8 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Empress - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 13 September 2018.
  19. ^ "In My Bed - Single by RAY BLK". Apple Music. Apple Music. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Ray BLK links with Chip on new single "Action"". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Lovesick - Single by RAY BLK". Apple Music. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Games (feat. Giggs) - Single by RAY BLK". Apple Music. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Dark Skinned - Single by RAY BLK". Apple Music. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Gorillaz Release New Song 'The Apprentice,' Featuring Zebra Katz, RAY BLK & Rag'n'Bone Man". Billboard. 24 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Flat Champagne EP by Dan Caplen". iTunes (UK). 30 June 2017.
  26. ^ "Scared of Love (feat. RAY BLK & Stefflon Don) [Preditah Remix] - Single by Rudimental". iTunes. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  27. ^ @JPCooperMusic (10 January 2022). "I'm very excited to announce that my final single from SHE, "Need You Tonight" features the incredible @RayBLK_. This is one of my favourite moments on the record.. first release of 2022.. let's gooooo! 😁 Out Friday, presave here" (Tweet). Retrieved 11 January 2022 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ "Mama (Acoustic Room Session) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  29. ^ "LOVE. (Acoustic Room Session) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 28 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Paradise (Acoustic) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  31. ^ "RAY BLK - full Official Charts History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  32. ^ "April Showers 2 by TE dness". iTunes (UK). 19 April 2015.
  33. ^ "23Winters by Kojey Radical". iTunes (UK). 1 March 2016.
  34. ^ "Get Some Courage, Vol. 1 by Courage". iTunes (UK). 12 August 2016.
  35. ^ "New Gen by NEW GEN". iTunes (UK). 27 January 2017.
  36. ^ "Crop Circle by Nines". iTunes (UK). 20 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Side Tape - EP by RAYE". iTunes (UK). 4 May 2018.

External links[edit]