At its heart, 22-year-old Olivia Nelson’s
modern era R&B is an exercise in telling stories. Her forthcoming ‘For You’ EP recalls the end of a significant relationship in her life and through love songs, stories of heartbreak and cautionary tales, Olivia finds an outlet for her emotion. The EP opener ‘Hideaway’ finds Olivia escaping her responsibilities to find solace on a quiet beach. The following collection of songs is filled with creative production and sophisticated songwriting that lifts the lid on a singular undiscovered talent.
Born to a first generation immigrant mother from the island of St Vincent, Olivia Nelson’s musical upbringing was an eclectic mix of contemporary R&B and motown classics. Fascinations with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey gave her an appreciation for outstanding vocal ability. “I used to try and hit whistle notes in my living room and my mum would yell at me”, she recalls. Classic soul bands like The Chi-lites and The Delfonics filled the air in their home and music was everywhere. “I definitely knew at the time I wanted to make music. Either that or be an astronaut”, she laughs. Olivia attended secondary school in Brentwood, Essex where a lack of diversity meant a struggle to find kindred spirits. Turning her focus to writing and performing music at school, she found an outlet for her creativity. At 16, Olivia had recorded her first demo and began to sing hooks for London rap collective XXVI in return for free studio time. Initial single releases ‘Smother Me’ and ‘Help Me Out’ came from those sessions and have found their place on the ‘For You’ EP among new compositions. By 18, Olivia had met a mentor and manager who coached her in music making while studying at university. “His advice was to take my time, not rush, get out and meet people and I’d know when I felt ready to put something out.” Over the last four years, Olivia has been working on this EP alongside future releases with a variety of producers and writers. Dreaming of collaborations with James Fauntleroy, The Internet and Kehlani, Olivia has an eye for creative individuals who push boundaries with their writing.
Listen here. Chosen by Abbie McCarthy (Radio 1).