A diverse handful of guest appearances and solo singles across 2010 and 2011 situated Jessie Ware in a line of remarkable soul-inspired U.K.
vocalists that includes Tracey Thorn, Sade, Lisa Stansfield, and Caron Wheeler. Ware, a native of South London, England, arrived with background vocals for Man Like Me and Jack Peñate and took the lead on RackNRuin's "Soundclash," where she revealed a voice powerful enough to be heard and felt over a frantic breakbeat-driven production. By the end of 2010, she issued "Nervous," a collaboration with SBTRKT. The following year was even more productive. Her first 2011 release was "Valentine," a sighing/swooning duet with vocalist/producer Sampha. It was followed by two appearances on SBTRKT's self-titled album, one of which -- the garage/broken beat hybrid "Sanctuary" -- also featured Sampha. "The Vision," the title track on dubstep producer Joker's 4AD debut, was the most impressive showcase for Ware yet, and she closed out the year with another solo single, "Strangest Feeling," a somewhat emotionally wrenching track produced by the Invisible's Dave Okumu. Okumu and Julio Bashmore collaborated with Ware for the singer's first release of 2012, the plush sophisti-pop single "Running." An album, Devotion, followed on Island that August. It debuted at number five in the U.K. and was shortlisted for the 2012 Mercury Prize. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi