With songs about police brutality and transgender conversion therapy, Declan McKenna has emerged as one of the UK’s most interesting new songwriters.
Now the 18-year-old, who started writing songs at school, has been named BBC Introducing’s artist of the year.
The award recognises musicians who got their start through BBC Introducing, which allows unsigned acts to get played on the radio.
McKenna said he was “delighted and honoured” to be recognised.
McKenna got a big break in 2014 when he used the Introducing website to submit his early songs to the BBC.
“I uploaded a bunch of demos when I was 14 or 15 because there were all these amazing bands coming out of BBC Introducing at the time,” he said.
“I remember being played on Three Counties, which was my local station. They had me in the studio, which was cool, because I’d never done anything like that before.”
Among those early songs was a track called Brazil, which addressed allegations of corruption at Fifa ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
It caught the attention of Columbia Records, who later signed the singer backstage at Glastonbury.
As McKenna’s reputation grew, BBC Introducing continued to lend support, inviting the musician to record a session at Maida Vale studios, and putting him on stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Exeter.
The Hertfordshire-born singer released his debut album, What Do You Think About The Car, earlier this year, wedding those socially-conscious lyrics to a sun-soaked brand of indie pop that exhibits his love of David Bowie and Abba.
He’ll receive his artist of the year award during The Year in Music 2017, which screens on BBC Two this Friday at 21:00.
On learning he had been named artist of the year, he said: “I’d like to say a big thank you for relentlessly rooting for me throughout the years.
“No award could ever overshadow the time, effort and support given by so many others to get me to the point I’m at now, and for that I’m eternally grateful.”
BBC Music Introducing started 10 years ago as a way of bringing together all of the BBC’s shows that champion new and emerging artists.
There are now 38 shows across local and national stations. Musicians of any genre – from classical to grime – can submit their recordings through the uploader tool.