Pa Salieu wins BBC Sound of 2021

The Coventry rapper follows in the footsteps of the likes of Celeste, Adele and Michael Kiwanuka

Pa Salieu has been named as the winner of BBC Music’s Sound of 2021 poll.

The Coventry rapper, who received acclaim last year for his debut mixtape ‘Send Them To Coventry’, is the latest winner of the corporation’s annual new music poll. Celeste was crowned as BBC’s Sound of 2020 last year.

Salieu, who also features in this year’s NME 100 of the most exciting new and emerging artists for 2021, beat the likes of Holly Humberstone, Alfie Templeman and Bree Runway to win this year’s prize.


“2020’s been sick. It’s just been a year of taking life in,” Salieu told the BBC about his recent success. “I’m excited for next year and what’s to come, and 2020 has given me the chance to see the light. The light’s there but I’m still in that tunnel.”

Praising the rapper, Annie Mac – who was among the 160 tastemakers who voted in the BBC’s Sound of 2021 poll – said that Salieu has “a unique perspective on Britain”.

“His songs are exquisitely produced, with enough restraint for Pa’s voice to shine through and have the space to tell the stories of his life,” Mac said.

“They are stories of friendship and family, of violence, exclusion and racism, and they act as timeless evidence of British street life at the turn of new decade.”


As well as Celeste, previous winners of the BBC’s Sound of… poll include Adele, Michael Kiwanuka and Haim.

Pa Salieu is set to embark on a UK headline tour in May, kicking off in Bristol on May 11.