Winner of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition Announced

By Maisie Brogden 


Nottingham-based rapper, JayaHadADream, has been announced as this year’s winner of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, earning herself a slot to perform at this year’s Glastonbury Festival – to be headlined by fellow female artists: Dua Lipa, SZA and Shania Twain. 

Originally from Cambridge, but of Jamaican-Irish descent, JayaHadADream performed two tracks including her single ‘Force’ to an audience in Pilton, before being declared as this year’s winner. The judging panel included industry professionals and talent bookers as well as Glastonbury boss Emily Eavis. 

Festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds have been scrutinised in recent years for their line-up’s gender representation ratios. To see a female artist win the Emerging Talent Competition amongst thousands of online entries in a year, where the headliners are also predominantly female (the only male artist to headline the pyramid stage this year is Coldplay), feels like a triumph. This is comparative to last year, where the ratio of male to female artists was almost double. 

JayaHadADream bares a striking sonic resemblance to North London rapper Little Simz – who will also grace the pyramid stage this year. Her music is characterised by steady, swaggering beats and lyrics that tackle social affairs and her experiences from growing up in Cambridge and moving to Nottingham – she relocated for university in 2018. 

In her performance track ‘Force’, Jaya talks specifically about “growing up in an impoverished area.” The lyrics seem to draw from her time in Cambridge and how they have given her something to prove. Over sharp synths and droplets of piano, she raps “weed money filthy, grew up in England where the rich stay wealthy.” 

She also makes reference to her experience as an ethnic woman in Britain adding, “born in the UK but they’re telling me to go home.” Understanding how her struggles fuelled her determination only seems to make her victory in the Emerging Talent Competition seem even more well-deserved and socially relevant. 

Her latest release ‘Stubborn’, released in February, boasts the same effortlessly bounding energy this time with a much more distinct hip-hop underbelly. Her whit and delivery shine with lines like “stand out everywhere I go, feeling like Joe or Cleveland.” It’s refreshing, smart and creative – in other words, Glastonbury to a T. 

The chorus of ‘Force’ features Jaya softly and confidently echoing the line “a force to be reckoned with now, something like a golden child.” This June, in Worthy Farm’s lazy summer heat, that golden child will finally get their place in the sun.

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