Mahalia signed to a major label at the age of 13. But, two years ago, the UK crooner went viral for her Colors debut – a youtube show that features artist signing in a colored box.
Fast forward to 2019, her album, “Love and Compromise” is out, which was quickly followed by a tour in North America and Europe. The 13 track project included her single ‘What You Did’ with Ella Mai amongst other surprises like a feature from the African Giant, Burna Boy. But, while she has been in the industry for over 8 years, the 21-year-old is just figuring out. “As I was going through the tour and just as I go through life, your confidence changes and it fluctuates,” she said.
Mahalia’s style is unapologetic. She expressed how she is over bras (honestly, same), and how for awhile she wore baggy clothes to hide her body. But, as she has reached a new layer of success, she is all about being comfortable and encouraging her supporters to do the same. “You have to look at people who look like you, otherwise you’re just going to get confused,” Mahalia exclaimed.
Fresh off her five-week tour, Mahalia stopped by the ESSENCE office and talked confidence, style, and the one item that makes her gleam.
ESSENCE: You had so many outfit changes in the ‘What You Did’ video with Ella Mai, how did that concept come about?
Mahalia: We were working with two stylists, my stylist and Ella’s stylist. It was interesting with that one because none of it was planned. We had all these looks and somehow they were matching. That video, in particular, was a moment where me and my stylist we’re trying to work out what kind of outfits that showed my body without being overly sexualized but, not hiding anything.
“I don’t let things wear me anymore. Right now, I just wear whatever I want.” – Mahalia
ESSENCE: How would you describe your style?
Mahalia: I think particularly 90’s R&B fashion. It’s definitely a massive standing point for me and it’s what I grew up with. I would say that I’m an old soul in the sense that I really look back. I’m not really about what’s happening right now but, more so about what was everyone was wearing 10 years ago. I want to wear that now.
It’s funny because it elevates constantly. I used to wear oversized t-shirts and cycling shorts; one because it was comfortable, two because I don’t get too hot on stage, and three because I was honestly trying to hide my body. As I was going through the tour and just as I go through life, your confidence changes and it fluctuates.
ESSENCE: How have you been able to expand your confidence?
Mahalia: What it is now is that I’m just not afraid of showing people exactly what I look like. When I first started, I think in my mind there was a certain way that I was supposed to look. Because I didn’t conform to that, I just used to hide. I don’t let things wear me anymore. Right now, I just wear whatever I want.
ESSENCE: Does your style change when you’re on tour?
Mahalia: My outfits have to be super cool and just easy. But, also trying to maintain that kind of sexiness. You have to recognize what genre you’re writing. For me, I know that I’m an R&B artist and there’s an element of that. Sometimes I get it wrong and I’ve realized that for me on stage I can’t wear a dress. I like shorts or I like trousers and a little top. There’s got to be some skin out. Otherwise, I get too hot.
ESSENCE: What is something you must have before you walk out the door?
Mahalia: Always a bag. My favorite is a little brown 90s old school bag, you’d see it in an episode of like friends.
ESSENCE: What’s one thing you can put on that brightens your mood?
Mahalia: I have this hat by a friend of mine, her name’s Emma Brewin and she hand makes faux. It’s so big and really fluffy. I could be feeling any kind of way and put that on and I’m good to go. It’s an immediate elevation.
ESSENCE: What’s one thing you would tell your fans who is struggling with body positivity?
Mahalia: My mom used to say to me, if you talk about things too much, they become way too real. And sometimes they’re not, you’re just growing.