Grammy-nominated Yola says her mum thought music was “too risky”

"We grew up on the breadline, so it's not as if music was seen as a realistic option".

Yola, the UK singer nominated for four Grammy awards including Best New Artist, has talked about how she had to sneak out to play gigs when she was younger because her mother deemed it to be “too risky”.

The singer, who grew up in Portishead, told the BBC she escaped to play gigs in secret when she was a teenager. Her mother thought it was “unacceptable” and wanted her to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, she said.

“We grew up on the breadline, so it’s not as if music was seen as a realistic option,” she said. “The probability is always with you that it won’t go well.” Watch the video for ‘Faraway Look’ below.


Things didn’t initially go to plan as Yola ended up homeless in London, having spent all the money she had to further her music career. “I discovered that the hard way earlier in my musical development when I wound up on the streets,” she explained.

“So it wasn’t that [my mum] was exactly wrong – it’s just that her approach was very absolute and I had to circumnavigate it with a whole lot of sneaking.” Yola briefly joined Massive Attack before launching her solo career and becoming a breakout star in the US.

On top of her Best New Artist nomination for the 2020 Grammy Awards, the singer is also up for Best Americana Album for her debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’, and both Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for album track ‘Faraway Look’. Asked about the nominations, Yola said the nods are “already a win” to her.

The Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on 26 January 2020, where LizzoLil Nas XBillie Eilish, and Ariana Grande lead the way in the nominations.