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Normani’s rise has the feel of an overnight phenomenon, but she’s been building towards this for nearly a decade. Born Normani Kordei Hamilton in Atlanta, she grew up in New Orleans “very influenced by live instrumentation,” she says, and moved to Houston in the wake of Hurricane Katrina at age nine. She started out as a competitive gymnast and dancer—tap, ballet and jazz—before getting into music, ultimately auditioning for The X Factor in 2012 at age 14.
Though Normani didn’t make the cut for X Factor as a solo act, Simon Cowell signed her the following year to his Syco label, along with four other contestants, including Under 30 alumni Camila Cabello and Lauren Jauregui, to form Fifth Harmony. The group released three albums that landed on the Billboard 200, including the single “Work From Home,” which peaked at No. 4 on the singles charts. Even though the ensemble group was grossing north of $200,000 per tour stop—a feat achieved by only a handful of this year’s 30 Under 30 Music honorees—Normani wasn’t satisfied.
Since 2018, Normani has played festivals like Lollapalooza and released top-ten collaborations including “Love Lies” with Khalid. “Dancing With A Stranger” featuring Sam Smith, is the most-played song on radio in the world this year.
“There are certain artists that you hear on the radio, see on stage or meet that have that special star quality,” says Silverstein, now a 30 Under 30 lister himself, who has added up-and-comers Anitta and Bazzi to his roster. “Normani is one of those artists.”
She’ll look to prove that further with her full-length debut album, on tap for early next year on Sony’s Keep Cool/RCA Records—where she’ll attempt to lift her fans the way her idols once did her.
“I think back to me being a little girl, and being able to see some of my favorite artists with young black women, which I hope to be the representation of today, even for the next generation,” she says. “To inspire them and let them know that they can also do what I’m doing. You know, I’m no different than they are. I’m a regular girl from the South who had a dream.”
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