Ella Mai is a British-born artist who shot to fame after releasing her 2017 single Boo’d Up alongside American producer DJ Mustard. Mustard discovered Mai on Instagram and flew her over to the United States for an audition. Mai impressed Mustard so much that he immediately offered her a label contract.
Mai hit the ground running after signing with Mustard, with her first EP, Time, coming in February 2016. A year later, she released her third successful EP, and months later went on tour with Kehlani. In October 2018, Mai released her eponymous debut album. Ella has achieved a lot over a relatively short period as she has been nominated thrice for the Grammy Award for Best R&B album.
This piece will look at Ella’s parents and secretive love life.
Ella’s music loving mom named her after legendary jazz musician Ella Fitzgerald
Ella was born on 3rd November 1994 to an Irish father and a Jamaican mother. Mai’s parents loved music, and they named their children after legendary artists: Ella after legendary jazz artist Ella Fitzgerald and her brother after Mark Davis. The music that played constantly at Ella’s home eventually inspired her approach to music. She told Nylon:
“My mom used to play a lot of music around the house, and I think that’s where I get my inspiration from. She always used to play The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill over and over and over again. My mom’s side of the family is Jamaican, so [my grandparents and my mom] used to play a lot of reggae in the house. And then soul stuff, like Erykah Badu and R&B, like Alicia Keys.”
When Ella was 12, her mom moved the family from London to New York after she landed a teaching job in the city. Mai experienced a massive culture shock as she struggled to adapt to life in New York. Mai’s English accent made an easy target for bullies. Unable to fight back, Mai retreated into her shell and almost gave up singing. Ella told the Los Angeles Times:
“It was such a culture shock for me, being plucked from this diverse neighborhood in London into Jamaica Queens. I’m in this new environment and I had an English accent. All the girls hated me. I didn’t sing, I didn’t want anymore attention. It was really frustrating.”
Ella regained confidence in her ability after volunteering to sing the National Anthem at her high school graduation. Her performance shocked and impressed people in equal measure. After that Star-Spangled performance, Ella decided to focus on music full time.
Ella has been praised for her portrayal of love and heartbreak in her music but her love life remains a mystery
In some quarters, Ella has been hailed as the Breakup Queen, and that should tell you a lot about her music. Ella pulls on your heartstrings, reminding you of love and all of its pitfalls. However, she also talks of hope and positivity in the face of broken love. She told Nylon:
“A lot of the times, if relationships go badly, you concentrate on the negative. But in those situations, there is always a positive outcome that you can learn from. So, I like to concentrate on the lesson and how I can learn from this. I concentrate on me, rather than concentrating on the actual situation.”
It’s unclear whether Ella’s motivation comes from personal experience or she draws from other people’s experiences. She has done a great job of keeping her love life away from the public eye. One of the rare rumors about her love life that almost stuck was that she was in a relationship with NBA player, Jayson Tatum.
The rumors emerged after she posted the googly eyes emoji on one of Tristan’s Instagram photos. However, the rumor quickly died down as it appears that nothing was up between Ella and Tristan.