Michael Kiwanuka: “I feel very honoured and humble to have won”
Soul singer Michael Kiwanuka has come top of the BBC Sound of 2012 list, which aims to showcase the best rising music stars for the year ahead.
With a voice that has won comparisons to Bill Withers, the 24-year-old has already supported Adele on tour.
The Sound of 2012 list was compiled using tips from 184 key UK-based music critics, broadcasters and bloggers.
Now in its tenth year, previous winners include Jessie J, Adele, Mika, Ellie Goulding, Corinne Bailey Rae and Keane.
Discover the top five acts
- 1. Michael Kiwanuka – interview & videos
- 2. Frank Ocean – interview & videos
- 3. Azealia Banks – interview & videos
- 4. Skrillex – interview & videos
- 5. Niki & The Dove – interview & videos
Kiwanuka, from London, cites influences ranging from Otis Redding and Bob Dylan to Miles Davis.
He started out as a session guitarist, working with Tinie Tempah’s producer Labrinth, before stepping in front of the microphone and signing to the Communion label, which was set up by Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett.
He said: “I never expected to be recognised in this way.
“It’s a great surprise and it means a lot that people are accepting the music they’ve heard so far, and it will bring the music to many more people, which for any musician is a great privilege.”
Kiwanuka came ahead of US R&B singer Frank Ocean, who has worked with Kanye West and Jay-Z and was at number two on the list.
New York rapper Azealia Banks was in third place, followed by high-octane dance DJ and producer Skrillex at four and Swedish electronic duo Niki & The Dove in fifth place.
The list was compiled using tips from 184 influential tastemakers, who each named their favourite three new acts.
Previous Sound of… winners
- Sound of 2011: Jessie J (above)
- Sound of 2010: Ellie Goulding
- Sound of 2009: Little Boots
- Sound of 2008: Adele
- Sound of 2007: Mika
- Sound of 2006: Corinne Bailey Rae
- Sound of 2005: The Bravery
- Sound of 2004: Keane
- Sound of 2003: 50 Cent
The participants ranged from music magazine editors and newspaper critics to respected bloggers, DJs and radio and TV producers.
David Smyth, chief rock and pop critic of the London Evening Standard, who took part, said: “I picked Michael because his music really grabbed me when I first heard him last summer.
“Paul Butler of The Bees produced his song Tell Me a Tale, giving it a vintage psychedelic soul feel. It was an unusual backdrop for such a rich, warm voice.”
The tastemakers’ choices could be performers from any country and any musical genre.
Artists who had scored a UK top 20 single or album before 13 November 2011 were disqualified, as were those already well-known to the UK public – for example by featuring in the final stages of a TV talent show or already being a member of a successful band.
A longlist of the top 15 artists was published in December, and the top five have been revealed this week.
Jessie J came top of the Sound of 2011 list. She went on to sell 805,000 copies of her album Who You Are – the most successful debut for a British artist last year.
Dubstep producer James Blake and indie band The Vaccines were also in the top five.
The other previous winners are: Ellie Goulding (Sound of 2010), Little Boots (Sound of 2009), Adele (Sound of 2008), Mika (Sound of 2007), Corinne Bailey Rae (Sound of 2006), The Bravery (Sound of 2005), Keane (Sound of 2004) and 50 Cent (Sound of 2003).
Other artists in the top five in previous years include Hurts (Sound of 2010), Florence and the Machine (Sound of 2009), Duffy (Sound of 2008), Klaxons (Sound of 2007), Plan B (Sound of 2006), Bloc Party (Sound of 2005), Franz Ferdinand (Sound of 2004) and Dizzee Rascal (Sound of 2003).