For Mary J. Blige's upcoming 11th (!!!) studio album, the Queen of R&B looked to new inspiration. Based on her love for UK artists like Sam Smith and Disclosure, the diva not only collaborated with the acts on fantastic reworks of their hit singles ("Stay With Me" and "F for You," respectively), but took a literal and figurative trip through their sonic landscape—and then she found herself in London.
The London Sessions is the result of this English immersion that sees Mary and her longtime producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins teaming up with everyone from crossover successes like Smith, Disclosure and Emeli Sandé to some of the UK's best-kept musical secrets like producers Naughty Boy, Steve Fitzmaurice and M. J. Cole along with songwriter Eg White.
"Our idea was to become part of London," the singer told The Guardian. "I've never had the chance to really soak in it the way I have this time. To make records from the London-scene perspective...the music is free over here the way it used to be in the States. Artists are just free to do what they love. Listening to the radio you can hear the freedom. The music is living and breathing—you can hear that from Adele's last album."
To celebrate all the great music coming out of England's capital, here's a look at seven London musicians you need to know.
Born in the Greater London borough of Hackney, Paloma Faith wows as much with her visuals as she does her voice. The soulful chanteuse's combination of funk, jazz, rock and pop has won her critical accolades (including a nod for Best British Album at the 2013 BRIT Awards for sophomore LP Fall to Grace), found a fan in Pharrell (who produced her 2014 single "Can't Rely on You") and millions of YouTube views with her music videos boasting eccentric outfits, popping colors and unexpected storylines.