Interscope RecordsThis year welcomed many breakout stars, but Ella Mai was one of 2018’s best-kept secrets, with an underdog story worth rooting for.

After a failed audition for The X Factor, Mai began posting clips of her singing to Instagram, where she was discovered by super producer DJ Mustard. Mai later inked a deal to Mustard’s 10 Summers record label, which released a series of EPs in 2016 and 2017. Her breakthrough single, “Boo’d Up,” however, proved to be her calling card as it steadily gained traction and finally took hold early this year, where it became one the most memorable songs of the summer.

Ella’s follow-up single, “Trip,” came next, as did her self-titled debut album in October and an SNLperformance in November.

The U.K. songbird closes this year with her success showing few signs of slowing down for now.  She’s also earned her first American Music Award nomination as well as Grammy nods for Song of the Year and Best R&B Song. 

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