As part of Billboard‘s Black History Month celebration, we’ve asked Black artists spanning all genres to compile their own unique playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. Each song they’ve chose represents their love for the culture across the diaspora — from childhood favorites to songs that make them feel free. Today, Estelle shares her soundtrack.
“Black history means Black futures. I support and appreciate the work that women and men like Angela Rye, Brittany Packnett and Deray [are accomplishing]. A host of enlighteners and defenders are out here doing [the work] every day in the name of our future. It’s making an impact worldwide. Along with my own songs from my album Lovers Rock — “So Easy” featuring Luke James and “Lights Out” — here is what each song in this playlist means to me:
1. Anita Baker, “Giving You the Best That I Got”: It is an understated classic from one of our legendary icons.
2. Nina Simone, “Young Gifted and Black”: My mum sang it to us as kids and now she sings it to my nieces and nephews. Our family classic.
3. Lucky Daye, “Roll Some Mo”: An early joint from a future soul star.
4. Luke James, “Drip”: Luke sings his life at all times. It’s not easy singing next to him. This song will be a smooth soul staple.
5. Ella Mai, “Shot Clock”: I just appreciate her energy and vibes. [She doesn’t] try too hard; she lets it flow and is a great representer from the diaspora.
6. Minnie Ripperton, “Reasons”: The lyrics resonate [with me].
7. John Holt, “I Will”: I use it in all my shows. It speaks to having an unfailing love of another person.
8. Alton Ellis, “It’s A Shame”: It talks about inner city hood life, how more things change but more things stay the same.
9. Stevie Wonder, “Golden Lady”: I often picture myself acting out the video of a Stevie Wonder song. Like, what would it look like if I directed and starred in the video. This one feels good.
10. Marvin Gaye, “Symphony”: The music. The. Music. The arrangement. His choices.
11. Louisa Mark, “Keep it Like It Is”: Her soprano was no joke. Clean and distinct. [The song is] a childhood memory unmatched.
12. Neneh Cherry, “Buffalo Stance”: From the way she dressed to the way she sang, we all wanted to be her.
13. Sade, “Your Love is King”: It’s Sade!
14. Jay-Z, “Feelin It”: It’s classic hip-hop.
15. James Brown, “Try Me”: One of his more vulnerable records, just beautiful
16. The Controllers, “Stay”: A family classic we ALL dance to.
17. DeBarge, “All This Love”: Another family classic that we all sing along in harmonies that aren’t there — but feel good anyway.
18. Mary J. Blige, “Only Love”: [The song] makes me happy. Mary is a favorite.”
After wrapping up the east coast leg of her tour in support of her Lovers Rock album (which is currently No. 2 on the Billboard Reggae Chart), Estelle will be heading to the west coast soon. Listen to her playlist below.