The power in Selah Sue’s soul music lies in her humble history. Born in a small Belgian town with no musical family members, Selah (born Sanne Putseys) was an anxious, creative kid who independently fell in love with Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley, prompting a DIY acoustic adventure of her own. Her original songs became legend at friends’ parties — and eventually, on MySpace.
In the blink of an eye, the 22-year-old guitarist/singer and Jewel lookalike dropped a self-titled debut album, landed a collaboration with Cee-Lo Green on her gritty blues track “Please,” nailed an opening slot for Prince, topped Belgian charts, garnered comparisons to Amy Winehouse, and received the prestigious Prix Constantin award — basically the French Mercury Prize.
The secret to the young bride-of-Frankenstein-haired lady’s rapid-fire ascent to fame is, actually, her music (although those intense blue eyes don’t hurt). Singles like her breakout “Raggamuffin” aren’t only triumphs in soul vocal acrobatics and innovative blues-based composition — they come with a gravitas, joy, and honesty the world is only getting from the likes of Nneka (their smoky vocals even sound similar) and Miseducation archives. For someone so young, Selah’s music is all grown up, shed of all pretense and modern pop production trappings of soul music.
“Crazy Vibes” is her latest smoky smash hit. Watch her terrorize a truck stop diner in the new video, off her self-titled debut.