Born on June 11, 1997, Jorja Smith was raised in Walsall, West Midlands, England by a Jamaican father and English mother. She also has a younger brother, Luca Smith. Smith began taking piano lessons at the age of eight, with encouragement from her father, who was former musician. She also studied classical music, and learned to play the oboe at Aldridge School, where she earned a musical scholarship.
Growing up, Smith listened to reggae, punk, hip-hop, and R&B, while writing songs at the age eleven. One of her biggest influences has been Amy Winehouse, inspired by her “raw approach to songwriting”. Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, Most Def, and The Streets are also some of her musical influences. She was then discovered by a manager at the age of fifteen, after uploading videos of herself singing covers on Youtube. After her graduation, she moved to London and supported herself as a barista while writing songs at eighteen.
In January of 2016, Smith released an original song titled “Blue Lights” on soundcloud. The song acquired over 400,000 plays within a month. She then garnered attention from Drake, after he stated that her second single “Where Did I Go?” was one of his favorites. In November, she released her debut EP, Project 11, and was nominated as one of fifteen rising acts on BBC Music’s ‘Sound of 2017’.
In February and March of 2017, she performed as a special guest on Drake’s Boy Meets World Tour, and was featured on his mixtape More Life. In May, she was featured on Kali Uchis’ song “Tyrant”, which became Uchis’ lead single on her album. In October and November, she was the opening act of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic World Tour. By December, Smith was the recipient of the Brit’s Critic’s Choice Award, becoming the first independent artist to be nominated and recipient of this award.
In January of 2018, Smith was a co-writer of the song “I Am”, which was featured on the Black Panther album. During this month, she also performed at the Brit Awards. Later in April, she made her late-night t.v. debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! while performing her first single “Blue Lights”. In June, she released her debut album titled Lost and Found, which was written over the period of five years. Smith began touring within the same month of its release.