Michael Kiwanuka: The Male Adele

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This post is part of our Game Changer Series, which is dedicated to bringing uniquely inspiring artists into the spotlight. Finding gems in a sea of similar talent, Nao does what it does best in the crowded music industry: never accept ordinary.

Heard of 24-year-old Michael Kiwanuka? You’ve tasted his sound if you drink warm tea and honey – with a splash of scotch.

Compared to legend crooners like Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye, and having already made a name for himself touring with Adele in Europe and also winning BBC’s “Sound of 2012” award after her, he’s the male version of the chart-sweeping songstress, some say. But, don’t tell Kiwanuka that. After listening to his most well-known single in the U.S. above, you’ll see what makes him unique and rapidly catching the attention of underground music aficionados: a wise, almost ghostly voice from the past recounting contemporary stories of today’s youth.

But, how does Kiwanuka feel about all of this sizing up?

According to an interview with Interview magazine, Kiwanuka says, “If that lags on [for] records to come, it starts to get annoying. But the way I see it is every artist that I’ve been influenced by is influenced by someone else. At the beginning your influences are more on your sleeve than when you develop, so for me it seems quite natural and quite normal. What makes it alright for me is it’s true; if they were saying there are these artists that I sounded like or was influenced by and I wasn’t really, then I think it would piss me off a bit more. But I can’t really deny it. I think people will find out more about me when there’s more albums and more music.”

We’re all ears.

What up-and-comer do you have your eye on?

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