Born in Nigeria and based in England, 25-year- old singer/songwriter Jacob Banks creates soul music that’s uncompromisingly honest but thrillingly cinematic. A self-taught musician who began singing, playing guitar, and writing songs at the age of 20, Banks got his start at open mic nights around Birmingham in 2011 and quickly won major attention for his commanding vocal presence and daringly intimate songwriting. In early 2013 he released his powerful debut EP The Monologue, earning feverish acclaim that soon saw him supporting such artists as Emeli Sandé and Alicia Keys on tour.
Now at work on his Interscope Records debut (the follow-up to 2015’s self-released, critically praised EP The Paradox), Banks thrives on constant innovation in the richly textured beats and grooves that give his music such intensity. “I think the epicness of my songs partly comes from being African—that really heavy, four-on- the-floor, foot-thumping, warrior kind of vibe has a lot to do with where I’m from,” notes Banks, who moved to England at age 14. And with his nuanced yet arresting vocal delivery, Banks proves himself attuned to the darker dimensions of the human experience while instilling each track with a profoundly hopeful spirit. “I’m never defeated in any of my songs; I always seem to win,” he says. “I want to use that to empower everyday people, to be their battery pack on a Monday morning and help them get through the day. All of these songs are about triumph, and how to keep going when everyone and everything is telling you to stop.”