Awards

Yola Recalls Getting Elton John's Endorsement: 'I Almost Swallowed My Own Tongue'

In this week’s episode of You Should KnowBillboard sits down with Yola to find out which artists most inspired her musically, how it felt to find out that Elton John is a fan of her music, why people should listen to her music, and much more.

Asked to name her biggest musical inspirations, Yola tells Billboard that she has a very wide range of influences, including Elton John, the Bee Gees, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, The Kinks, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, The Everly Brothers, KRS-One, Blur, and Björk.

The singer, who covered Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” last year and received high praise from him, is also asked how she first found out that he is a fan of her music. “When I heard Elton John was a fan, I almost swallowed my own tongue,” she says with a laugh. “I think I was eating and…I almost choked. It was nice.”

As for where she was when she found out she was nominated for four different Grammy awards, Yola says that she was in Munich, sitting on her bed in her underwear and FaceTiming her manager. “We were crying,” she recalls. “It was hilarious and then like really emotional and then hilarious again.”

In the interview, Yola is also asked why people should listen to her music, to which she replies that she sings from a point of view that people don’t hear enough of.

“As a darker complected black woman, I don't think there are as many women of my complexion in the front,” she explains. “Especially in the UK, there seems to be this horrible trend of people that look like me in the back and being told we should be in the back and so that's definitely one of the things.”

“Also, I'm good at my job,” she continues. “I sing and write songs from a place of not just heart, but of life experience. My aim is to connect to people, so if you are looking to connect, then I'm your gal.”

You can check out the full video above.