London based artist Greentea Peng was celebrating last night after being included in the BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2021 competition.
The artist, whose influences include Erykah Badu and Lauren Hill, has made a name for herself in the last couple of years with an eclectic brand of R&B, hip-hop, reggae and psychedelic soul.
Peng, whose real name is Aria Wells, first came to prominence on Jools Hollands’ BBC2 show, Later. Performing the track Hu Man with her socially distanced band, the singer gave BBC viewers a breathtaking demonstration of her vocal prowess.
It seems like music is in the artist’s veins. “I’ve been singing from as young as I can remember” she told the BBC News website recently. “My dad was very musical, he was a trained actor, very theatrical, and would always take me to theatre auditions and teach me Oliver Twist songs”.
Peng’s love affair with music was to suffer a major set back when the singer hit 15, however.
Plagued by depression and lacking in self worth, the would be artist suddenly found that she had lost all desire to sing.
Several difficult years followed, with Peng becoming increasingly dependent on drugs to dull the pain of her mental health woes.
A move to Mexico would prove her salvation, however. The young Briton spent the majority of the trip watching musicians performing in the streets. These performances seemed to have a powerful effect on the artist. Suddenly, she felt the desire to sing again.
“I realised that’s where my healing was,” she later told I-D magazine. “We underestimate how important it is to have a creative outlet.”
The artist was soon heading up a popular local band, and making quite a bit of money too boot. Better still, she finally knew what she wanted to do with her life.
But what of the strange name? As it turns out, the inspiration for the moniker came while the singer was high on cannabis during a trip to Peru.
“I go into this chemists and this tea box is just shining at me” says Peng of the experience. . “I’m like, ‘What is that?’ I go up to it and it’s this bosh box of green tea – my favourite kind of green – covered in leaves and there’s just this woman’s body cut out with a weed bikini and it said Green Tea Seng. I was like, “Greentea Peng!”, because the girl was peng”.
The artist’s love affair with all things green evidently stretches to marijuana, too. Peng has confessed to smoking the drug since she was 13 and the artist has several tattoos which profess her love for the drug.
Appropriately, Peng’s music has a trippy vibe to it, too. Fusing r’n’b, jazz and hip hop, the artist’s songs waft by like pretty clouds with the singer’s appealingly breathy vocals holding the whole thing together.
With her stunning vocals, trippy tunes and easy charm, Greentea Peng is an artist who we will be hearing a lot more of in the coming months and years.
More information about Green Tea Peng can be found here.
For information on other great artists in London, please click here.