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David McClister

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As a teenager Yola had to sneak out to perform in gigs because her mother disapproved

A British musician who is tipped for four Grammys has spoken of how her mother tried to ban her from music because it was “too risky”.

Yola used to sneak out of the house she grew up in, in Portishead near Bristol, to play gigs while she was a teenager and ended up homeless in London.

Now she could win the likes of Best New Artist at the 62nd Grammys, in the US.

Yola’s mum thought music was “unacceptable” and wanted her to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, she said.

“We grew up on the breadline, so it’s not as if music was seen as a realistic option,” she said. “The probability is always with you that it won’t go well.”

‘Literally risked everything’

“I discovered that the hard way earlier in my musical development when I wound up on the streets,” she explained.

“So it wasn’t that [my mum] was exactly wrong – it’s just that her approach was very absolute and I had to circumnavigate it with a whole lot of sneaking.”

Yola became homeless in London after using up all her finances to further her music career and struggling with stress-induced voice loss.

“It’s very validating to get something like this when you’ve literally risked everything you own,” she said.

She launched a successful career in writing and performing on pop hits, and briefly joined British band Massive Attack, before launching her solo career and becoming a breakout star in the US.

‘Already a win’

Yola, who has been solo for less than a year, has also been nominated for Best Americana Album for her debut album “Walk Through Fire” and for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for album track “Faraway Look”.

“I had no expectation of any of this,” she continued.

“I’ve been doing loads of other things on a small label and been sessioning for years. But as for being an artist in my own right, it’s only ten months.

“So for me this is already a win as far as I’m concerned.”

The Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on, 26 January 2020.