JayaHadADream has spoken to NME about how it feels to have won a coveted slot at Glastonbury this summer after winning the festival’s 2024 Emerging Talent Competition.

The Cambridge born Jamaican-Irish artist came out on top of the eight acts in a live final at Pilton’s Working Men’s Club this weekend (Saturday April 27) after already beating thousands of online entries. The rapper won over a judging panel – including Glasto boss Emily Eavis, industry professionals and Glastonbury main stage bookers – with her high-energy thought-provoking hip-hop. Now, she’ll be performing alongside the likes of Coldplay, Dua Lipa, SZA, Shania Twain, IDLES, The National, Disclosure, and many more.

“It feels completely surreal also heartwarming and reassuring,” she explained just moments after winning the slot on one of Glasto’s main stages, along with a £5,000 PRS Foundation development prize. “There are so many emerging artists doing amazing things, so to feel this seen and heard in such a busy climate is incredible, especially in hip-hop where women are so underrepresented.”

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JayaHadADream performed two songs on the night, including her 2022 single ‘Force’ which tackles themes of teenage angst and social issues. “The verses are all about day to day life growing up in an impoverished area,” she explained. “Cambridge is known to be academic and wealthy but actually the surrounding areas are really quite deprived so I drew from that.”

Continued: “It’s supposed to be empowering for young people who may not feel heard. The message is to keep going and that one day you will feel stronger. The song was so poignant for me and my career and it’s a mantra I live by. I’m a sociologist at heart so I’m trying to inform, give insight and share an experience to make people feel seen.”

On performing in front of festival bosses Michael and Emily Eavis, she described the experience as ‘nerve-wracking’. “I’ve literally watched them in documentaries over the years so to be in the same room as them was surreal, I can’t believe they actually saw me perform,” she said. “I’m a big music nerd. It was just really iconic, I think this might be one of the most memorable moments of my life let alone my music career.”

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Having started out making tracks in her bedroom at the age of 16, the independent artist added that the PRS funding would be crucial in helping take the next step in her career.

“It’s going to be so important, particularly right now when I’m committing myself to music full time,” she said. “We’ve taken a lot of risks and spent a lot of money getting to shows, so being able to invest more in what we’re doing is vital, I’m incredibly grateful.”

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Speaking to NME about The Emerging Competition back in 2022, Emily Eavis said such challenges facing emerging artists continue to be a big driving factor behind the process.

“There’s been such a shortage of live music and new bands have really suffered as a result,” she explained. “So to be able to offer something really solid and give an opportunity to play at the finals and potentially at the festival is really exciting. The new music side to the festival is something I’m really passionate about and I love opening that up to the new talent.”

JayaHadADream at the Glastonbury 2024 Emerging Talent Competition, with Huw Stephens. Credit: Press/Glastonbury/supplied

Now, JayaHadADream’s focus is soley on smashing Glasto 2024 out of the park at Worthy Farm this June. “I’m going to bring some surprises and some featured artists and make it a really big show,” she offered. “I’m really excited to add some layers to the sound now and steal that space, I don’t need to worry about missing out on a ticket now either!”

Elsewhere on the night, DJ Huw Stephens announced that all eight finalists will be awarded with a slot at this year’s festival. He added that the two with runner’s up of singer-songwriter Nadia Kadek and soul artist Caleb Kunle will also receive a £2,500 Talent Development prize from the PRS Foundation to help take their careers to the next level.

This year’s Glastonbury Festival will take place from June 26-30. Check out the full line-up with stage splits so far here.

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