Yola said she was “just done crying” — with joy — over her four Grammy Award nominations when Billboard caught up with her before a concert in Germany on Wednesday (Nov. 20).
“My manager FaceTimed me, crying her eyeballs out, and I could tell immediately that something had happened with the Grammys,” said Yola, who received nods for best new artist, best Americana album for the Dan Auerbach-produced Walk Through Fire and best American roots performance and best American roots song for the track “Faraway Look,” co-written with Auerbach and Pat McLaughlin. “She was doing it in real time, as they’re reading them out, and as they all got announced my jaw got closer and closer to the floor, like, ‘What the hell?!’ I was like, ‘I don’t know what to make about any of this!'”
It also occurred to Yola that she “might be the only nominee who has no fixed abode,” having recently moved out of her apartment in London.
The nominations certainly cap what’s been a glorious year for the British singer-songwriter. Walk Through Fire, released by Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound label, came out in February to an abundance of critical acclaim. Yola (full name Yolanda Quartey/Carter) also received a pair of Americana Music Award nominations and made a guest appearance on The Highwomen album this fall.
She considers the Grammy nods “more than a validation” for a career that includes singing backup for Massive Attack, the Chemical Brothers and others and fronting the group Phantom Limb. “I think at this point in my life it’s more meaningful than getting it straight out of the gate,” she said. “You’re able to just feel it more. It feels like a personal achievement to me, definitely, but it also feels like we’re part of a wave. There are more women being nominated and more people of color, it seems, certainly in (best new artist) category and just across the board.
“I think it says there’s a lot of love for music that is drawing the lines and the connections between genre, that people want to hear this. It just feels like we’re moving on a wave, so I can’t necessarily take all the credit — although I’ll take some of it.”
In addition to touring, Yola is also at work on her next album, again with Auerbach. “We are many, many songs in, which is great,” she said. “We’re getting ready for round two. So (the nominations are) a win as far as I’m concerned, ’cause I know that we’ve got so much more to come.”