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The Voice UK 2020 Winner Blessing Annatoria talks new music

Less than 5 months after winning The Voice UK in November 2020, 18-year-old Zimbabwean-born – Blessing Annatoria is set to release her debut album named Count My Blessings on the 30th of April 2021. The first single from the album, I Smile, an uplifting and empowering interpretation of the Kirk Franklin original is already out on all digital platforms. Blessing is joined on the track by a remotely recorded choir led by Kingdom Choir’s Wayne Hernandez, best known for performing at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding. Wayne Hernandez who is of Afro-Cuban heritage has worked with Music Mogul - Jay Z and Grammy Award-winning group -Gorillaz.

Photograph: Carsten Windhorst

The release of her debut album makes Blessing the youngest winner in The Voice UK’s history, to release an album. Her album was recorded remotely during lockdown by award-winning producer, arranger, and songwriter Rupert Christie, who has worked with the likes of Jessie J, U2, Coldplay, Lianne La Havas, and Lou Reed.

The 18-year-old, who moved to the UK when she was 7 years is known for her outstanding vocal range, capped with a mature voice. Growing up, she reminisces on listening to older musicians whom she credits for helping shape her voice, which we enjoy listening to now.

“I grew up on a lot of gospel music, from powerful musicians such as Tasha Cobbs, Donnie McClurkin and Kierra Sheard. These musicians inspired me to use my gift as a vocal piece for the good news. Singing hymns also played a big part in moulding me to be the singer and person that I am today. As of recently, I've been listening to a lot of RnB music and it has helped me in exploring different areas of my voice. People like Whitney Houston and Jennifer Hudson have motivated me to hit the high notes and allow myself to go wherever I want with my voice.”

On The Voice UK, Blessing had Olly Murs as her mentor. His guidance while competing on the show led to her being his second winning act on The Voice UK. Speaking on working with Olly, Blessing highlights how amazing it is to have Olly Murs not only as a mentor, but as someone who is a part of her life and has helped a lot in achieving what she has now. She goes on to talk about Olly being a humble and accommodative being. Since winning The Voice, life has taken a complete 360 for Blessing who has spent most of her time in the studio recording music and hoping to use her voice to inspire and change the world.

“I think something crucial that I have learnt in this business is that I have to be strong and confident in what I stand for and in what I want to do. It’s very important for me to speak up as an artist in order to be heard and understood. It’s vital for me to know who I am so that nothing can mould me into something or someone that I am not. I have also had to learn to not try and please everyone because not everyone is going to like what I do, and that’s okay”

Blessings’ debut album ‘Count My Blessings’ is a blend of some of the songs she sang on the show, alongside some old, good hymns that she grew up singing and listening to. The gospel-infused album features a stunning selection of 14 songs, representing all facets of Blessing Annatoria as an artist. Blessing Annatoria wants to bring different cultures together, spreading joy and happiness.

“During this time of hardship and struggle, I wanted to release an album of encouragement and joy. I want people to feel uplifted and I really hope the songs and hymns will give people the strength to pick themselves up and be happy again.”

The album’s emotive and soul-stirring title track Count My Blessings, which Blessing Annatoria co-wrote, is a rich melodic message to have faith, spread kindness, and help each other. ‘The Voice’ fans will be thrilled with the inclusion of a beautiful new version of Blessing’s winning song Angels by Robbie Williams, a powerful and emotional rendition of Westlife’s Flying Without Wings, as well as an electrifying re-imagine of Mariah Carey’s Without You, the track which secured Blessing her place in the final.

Photograph: Carsten Windhorst

Representing her childhood and faith, the album also features three hymns with a close connection to Blessing Annatoria. As a young Zimbabwean, Blessing grew up singing hymns in church and she has been surrounded by them all her life, which is why it was so important for her to include them on “Count My Blessings”, particularly the striking How Great Thou Art, which Blessing describes as her “family’s song”. All of the hymns have been given a contemporary twist and are set to introduce a new audience to their uplifting powers.

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Written by: Gilmore Tee

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