Poet and singer Arlo Parks is the latest songbird making news out of the East London music scene. Born Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, Arlo is of Nigerian, Chadian, and French descent and is inspired by a wide range of artists from Radiohead to Solange. Her 2021 debut and critically acclaimed studio album, Collapsed did exceptionally well, reaching number three on the UK Albums Chart and earned her several nominations at home and across the pond including one for “Best New International Act” at the BET Awards 2021.
Ahead of this year’s BET Awards 2022, hosted by actress Taraji P.Henson on Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, here are five things to know about rising UK artist Arlo Parks.
She randomly came up with her stage name
The singer opened up about the origin of her stage name during an interview with i-D magazine. “This story is really silly! I was reading an interview with King Krule in the Guardian, and he said that his name came from imagining a king crawling through a city at his lowest point. And I thought, 'Low… Arlo,’ the singer said.
“I wanted it to have two parts because I thought that would be cooler, like Frank Ocean. I was out with my friends, getting really stressed about finding the second part to this name, and they were like, 'We're in the park, just chill out!' And I was like, 'Parks! Damn.' And that was it,” she added.
Listening to Jazz sparked her interest in music
In an interview with Ones to Watch, Arlo revealed that growing up, her father used to play a lot of jazz around the house. She used it as inspiration to create her own work.
“The jazz around the house laid the foundations. That was my first contact with music and where I started to fall in love with it. I guess it was that paired with my love of writing,” she said. “I'd been writing a lot of stories and stuff when I was younger, and that evolved into poetry, and then that evolved into music. But jazz was my roots; it was the first thing I was in touch with.”
She wants to inspire others
She told OTW she doesn’t see herself as a role model “yet,” but said, “I am working towards it.” She added, “It's a work in progress. I'm still quite young, but I hope that in the future, people can look at me and be inspired.”
The first thing she ever performed on stage was a Childish Gambino song
“It was a school talent show vibe. I remember singing "Redbone" with my best friend on bass and this other dude on drums. He was playing a little bit too fast, but it was fine.”
She has her five-year plan sort of figured out
She told i-D magazine, “I'd like to have done two full records, played some shows in some weird, out of the way places, and maybe done some more collaborations. I don't think I'll be living in London, but we'll see... I don't like to set too many plans. I like to just go with the waves.”
Tune into the BET Awards 2022 Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET.