I first discovered Ella Mai when I heard her song “Naked” playing in the background of a snapchat video. It instantly inspired me and I felt that I just had to listen to the whole song.
So who is Ella Mai?
Originally debuting as part of an X Factor trio, she went on to release a solo EP of her own originals on Soundcloud in 2016. From there she was discovered, and now she creates music as a 23-year-old R&B/Soul singer and songwriter.
While R&B has seen many stunning female artists such as Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and Alicia Keys; Ella Mai’s music has that same classic R&B/Soul sound along with a modern twist. She has a powerful, stunning voice. It’s calming and soothing but has an edge that makes you feel every word she writes.
Ella Mai has a few hits out. “She Don’t” came out in 2016, and “Boo’d Up” in 2017. “Naked” is her most recent, though, which also came out in 2017.
“Naked” takes on a bit of a different sound than her other songs. It’s a bit softer and slower, and the song itself is very raw. Ella expresses society’s rules of every person having to fall within certain beauty and behavioral standards, and how unreasonable those standards are. The music video for “Naked” depicts Ella Mai, along with other people, in vulnerable “naked” positions with no makeup/clothing. At the end of the video, the people are holding up signs, recognizing powerful movements that are taking place such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Me Too”.
While beautiful on its own, “Naked” became a touching and powerful song for my own development and empowerment. I discovered this song while I was in recovery for an eating disorder. I’ve always struggled with body image issues, and this was a particularly vulnerable time for me. At the time of discovery, I had recently found out that my insurance company was no longer willing to pay for my treatment. They were giving me 4 more weeks, and then I was being thrust back into the world after 4 months of being in an intensive outpatient program. I spent the first 2 weeks in full panic mode, and then I heard it. In the last 2 weeks, this song helped me find worth in myself. “Naked” ultimately played a critical role in helping me come out about my eating disorder to my friends and to the public, in preparation for my return to normal life. I realized that the shame I felt was something that everyone has felt at one time, and there is no reason I should be ashamed. “Naked” has helped me realize that the way I view my body does not mean I am unworthy, and I hope that it will be able to inspire others the way that it inspired me.
Ella Mai is a fresh face to a classic genre. Her beautiful sounds and touching lyrics are ones that can’t be missed. I will be eagerly awaiting to hear what she has in store for 2018.
By Avery Wilhite