Open main menu

Rita Ekwere (born 2 August 1993),[1] better known under her stage name of Ray BLK, 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.

Ray BLK
Ray BLK 2 – splash! Festival 20 (2017).jpg
Background information
Birth nameRita Ekwere
Also known asRay Blizzy
Born (1993-08-02) 2 August 1993 (age 26)
Nigeria
OriginCatford, South London, England
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • rapper
Years active2015–present
LabelsIsland

BackgroundEdit

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 careerEdit

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 heart broken.[3] According to Ray "I felt like Miss Havisham was like a lot of women around me, who got their heart broken 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 was the opening act for the UK leg of the Nicki Wrld Tour headlining tour by american rapper Nicki Minaj

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Title Details
Empress

Extended playsEdit

Title Details
Havisham
  • Released: 15 March 2015[citation needed]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download
Durt
  • Released: 28 October 2016[7]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: Digital download

SinglesEdit

Title Year Album
"5050"[8] 2015 Durt
"My Hood"[9]
(featuring Stormzy)
2016
"Chill Out"[10]
(featuring SG Lewis)
"Patience (Freestyle)"[11] 2017 Non-album singles
"Doing Me"[12]
"All Or Nothing"[13]
(with Naughty Boy & Wyclef Jean)
2018 Bungee Jumping
"Baby"[14]
(with Yogi & Maleek Berry featuring Kid Ink)
Non-album single
"Run Run"[15] Empress
"Empress"[16]
"In My Bed"[17] 2019 TBA

Promotional singlesEdit

Title Year Album
"Mama"[18] 2018 Empress
"LOVE."[19] Non-album single
"Paradise"[20] 2019 Empress

As a featured artistEdit

Title Year Album
"The Apprentice"[21]
(Gorillaz featuring Rag'n'Bone Man, Zebra Katz & Ray BLK)
2017 Humanz
"Flat Champagne"[22]
(Dan Caplen featuring Ray BLK)
Flat Champagne – EP
"Scared of Love"[23]
(Rudimental featuring Ray BLK & Stefflon Don)
2019 Toast to Our Differences

Other charted songsEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
UK
[24]
"Rubber Bands"
(with Nines & Skrapz)
2018 61 Crop Circle

Guest appearancesEdit

Title Year Artist(s) Album Credits
"Beautiful Day to Die"[25] 2015 TE dness April Showers 2 Featured artist
"Love's Intervention"[26] 2016 Kojey Radical 23Winters
"2Am"[27] Courage Get Some Courage, Vol. 1
"Busy"[28] 2017 NEW GEN New Gen
"Not for The Radio"[citation needed] Tinie Tempah, MNEK Youth Background vocalist
"Rubber Bands"[29] 2018 Nines, Scrapz Crop Circle Featured artist
"Crew"[30] RAYE, Kojo Funds Side Tape

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "Empress by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Durt by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 28 October 2016.
  8. ^ "5050 - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 17 December 2015.
  9. ^ "My Hood (feat. Stormzy) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 5 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Chill Out (feat. SG Lewis) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 29 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Patience (Freestyle) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 6 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Doing Me - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 8 June 2017.
  13. ^ "All Or Nothing - Single by Naughty Boy, RAY BLK & Wyclef Jean". iTunes (UK). 18 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Baby (feat. Kid Ink) - Single by Yogi, Maleek Berry & Ray Blk". iTunes (UK). 2 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Run Run - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 8 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Empress - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). 13 September 2018.
  17. ^ "In My Bed - Single by RAY BLK". Apple Music. Apple Music. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Mama (Acoustic Room Session) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  19. ^ "LOVE. (Acoustic Room Session) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Paradise (Acoustic) - Single by RAY BLK". iTunes (UK). Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Gorillaz Release New Song 'The Apprentice,' Featuring Zebra Katz, RAY BLK & Rag'n'Bone Man". Billboard. 24 April 2017.
  22. ^ "Flat Champagne EP by Dan Caplen". iTunes (UK). 30 June 2017.
  23. ^ "Scared of Love (feat. RAY BLK & Stefflon Don) [Preditah Remix] - Single by Rudimental". iTunes. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  24. ^ "RAY BLK - full Official Charts History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  25. ^ "April Showers 2 by TE dness". iTunes (UK). 19 April 2015.
  26. ^ "23Winters by Kojey Radical". iTunes (UK). 1 March 2016.
  27. ^ "Get Some Courage, Vol. 1 by Courage". iTunes (UK). 12 August 2016.
  28. ^ "New Gen by NEW GEN". iTunes (UK). 27 January 2017.
  29. ^ "Crop Circle by Nines". iTunes (UK). 20 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Side Tape - EP by RAYE". iTunes (UK). 4 May 2018.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Jack Garratt
Sound of...
2017
Succeeded by
Sigrid