Few musicians can make their listeners cry, but, then again, not many musicians can perform like Yebba.
Abbey Smith, who performs under the name Yebba, has been singing in subways and hidden corners of the internet for years. She has finally burst out from the shadows and is becoming an artist to watch in 2018.
“Yebba,” which is “Abbey” spelled backwards, was a nickname given to her by her mother. After her mother’s passing, Abbey adopted the name “Yebba” in memory of her mother and as a reflection of her own identity. She began singing in small concert venues as Abbey Smith, then traveling across the country as Yebba.
While each of her performances were different, one element remained the same: the way her love for music translates into her expressive singing. With a tone of voice somewhere between Adele and Amy Winehouse, her vocals became one of her trademarks.
As she became increasingly popular, Yebba recorded covers and originals with artists like Clark Beckman, Luke Levenson and CAMM, and posted videos of herself singing to Youtube. Sofar Sounds, a concert venue in New York, eventually published a video of Yebba singing her original song, “My Mind.” It now has over 1 million views and countless reaction videos of listeners crying from the passion Yebba attaches to each lyric.
Within the past year, Yebba’s talent gained recognition from mainstream artists, who praised her for her riffs, runs and soulful performances. In December of 2016, Chance the Rapper invited her to sing backup during his Saturday Night Live rendition of “Same Drugs.” Chance later tweeted that Yebba was “stealing the show with ridiculous vocals.”
Ed Sheeran raved about Yebba during an interview with the radio station, 110.3 FM Z100. Sheeran co-signed her and invited her to be the opening act on his tour.
Yebba became a featured artist on Sam Smith’s most recent album: “The Thrill Of It All.” Their song, “No Peace,” is the only song on the album that credits another singer.
This November, Yebba made her debut on Spotify, iTunes and other music distribution platforms with her song “Evergreen.” This is yet another song crammed with emotion, close harmonies and effortless intensity.
Written in honor of her mother, this song is about Yebba letting go, while still holding on to hope for the future. While this is a challenging ballad to sing, it’s calming to listen to because of how well it showcases Yebba’s vocal range and ability.
Since the release of “Evergreen,” Yebba released one more song. Inspired by the new year and losing her mother to suicide, Yebba posted her first original song, “My Mind,” to her website for fans to download for free.
Listeners can also donate to “Bring Change to Mind,” a suicide prevention organization, to download the song. This organization is important to Yebba because it works toward opening a dialogue regarding mental illnesses, according to a post she wrote on Facebook.
While there is not yet a confirmed release date for her album, fans anticipate passionate songs that are quintessentially and unapologetically Yebba.