Sam Smith has been named BBC Sound of 2014 champion in a poll that awards the most promising new musicians for the coming year.
The 21-year-old singer was “completely speechless” on hearing the news of his win. “It’s a huge compliment to be recognised by the industry and the BBC in this way,” he said. “I really didn’t expect it.”
But 2013 has already seem Smith take the limelight, after he collaborated with British producer Naughty Boy on the fifth best-selling single of the year, “La La La”.
In November, The Independent predicted that Smith would win the prize: "If the names Sam Smith and Royal Blood don't currently register widespread recognition, then wait until January".
The Hertfordshire rising star also recently won the Brit Critics’- Choice Award – to be presented to him at the ceremony on 19 February.
Smith first caught industry attention in 2012 when his vocals were featured on electro duo Disclosure’s “Latch”.
Pop track “Money On My Mind” will be released in February, with his debut album In the Lonely Hour hitting stores in May through Capitol Records.
Second place went to Rudimental collaborator Ella Eyre, with R&B singer Banks taking third. Electro-soul act Sampha was placed fourth and blues guitarist George Ezra came fifth. The top five are all solo artists, for the first time in the award’s history.
Last year’s list was topped by LA female trio Haim, who enjoyed a number one album in September with their debut Days Are Gone.
The BBC Sound of 2014 longlist was compiled by 170 UK critics, editors, DJs and broadcasters. Previous winners including Adele and Jessie J were also invited to name their three favourite new acts from any country and genre.
Acts already well-known to the public were excluded from the award, as were those who had released a UK Top 20 single or album before 11 November 2012.