Get to know: Mabel

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You’ve heard her songs, but how much do you really know about the biggest new pop-R&B icon, Mabel?

Spanish born, London raised, Swedish schooled, Mabel is one of the UK’s most exciting new pop artists. With talent quite literally running in her blood - the daughter of singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry and producer Cameron McVey, and granddaughter of jazz superstar Don Cherry - music was always going to be on the cards for Mabel. 

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The singer-songwriter has made quite the impression on the industry since sharing her first single on Soundcloud in 2015; within weeks of dropping ‘Know Me Better’, the track was spotted by BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac and made ‘Track of the Week’ on her show. By the next month, Mabel was signed to a major label, Universal. 

Sounds easy, right? But it wasn’t as simple as it looks for Mabel, who has always been open about her struggles with anxiety. When starting out, the singer had horrific stage fright, which was so extreme she used to throw up before performing. Anxiety was something that started from a young age, but Mabel was encouraged by her parents to channel her feelings into writing. This quickly became a coping mechanism, and after moving to Sweden aged 8, Mabel attended Swedish music school for three years to study songwriting. She told Lorraine: “To feel anxiety about things is completely natural. For me, the biggest realization is that it’s not about getting rid of it. It’s about being open and honest and talking about it - and sometimes feeling it”. 

Discovered so young, Mabel said it took some time for her to find her own voice in the industry: “There was a long time when I was trying to please loads of people around me,” she told Skavlan in 2019, “I remember every day just being like I don’t want to let anybody down and then just had this epiphany that actually I was letting myself down because I wasn't being true to myself.” After deciding to take the pressure off herself and taking some time to focus on the kind of music that she wanted to make, Mabel found her feet and released ‘Finder’s Keepers’ which ‘changed her life: I hate the expression ‘finding yourself’ but I do feel like that’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t please everyone but I can create something that makes me happy, and that’s the most important thing.” 

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Since then, she’s toured with the likes of Harry Styles, released three albums, sold over two million singles in the UK, and had over half a billion streams. She also picked up a Brit Award in 2020 for Best Female Solo Artist exactly 30 years after her mother Neneh Cherry won two Brits. That’s one talented family.

Combining musical influences of R&B and pop with inspirations like Destiny’s Child and Stevie Wonder, her songs are relatable, intimate, and empowering anthems that everyone can sing along to. Mabel’s lyrics often touch on her identity and the struggles of personal relationships. Her hit track ‘Don’t Call me Up’ was written as a ‘call to action’ to push herself into a place of confidence after a break-up, moving her past feeling rejected: “It was me trying to regain my power. I felt really weak, and what’s more powerful than writing a song about it? And now he has to hear it all the time!.. It’s doing okay so I feel fairly smug about it, I'm not going to lie!”

It’s clear from her music that there’s a newfound confidence from Mabel, who’s ready to take on the world: “I know what I want...and I'm not going to stop until I'm there.” This is just the beginning! 

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