JayaHadADream, the rapper propelled to Glastonbury main stage by Nottingham

JayaHadADream will perform on one of Glastonbury's main stages this summer
JayaHadADream will perform on one of Glastonbury's main stages this summer -Credit:JayaHadADream

JayaHadADream's knack for singing was evident from day one. As a newborn, some of the many songs emitted from her mum's stereo would enter her cot, only to drift back in the form of melodic baby cooing.

"Apparently I used to make some strong-ish notes as a kid. Even the nurses used to joke with my mum about it, it was an ongoing thing," recalls the Cambridge-born rapper, real name Jaya Gordon-Moore. The anecdote appears, through the voice of her mum, at the beginning of one of her most popular songs, 'Force'.

But despite the seemingly destined nature of her music career, it took a move to Nottingham to unlock her potential, something that has propelled her to a coveted slot at the world's biggest festival this summer. The 24-year-old fended off masses of artists - she estimates around 8,000 - to win Glastonbury's 2024 Emerging Talent Competition.

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It will see her play the Woodsies Main Stage, treading the same floor as the likes of Sleaford Mods, James Blake and Sampha, as well as performing on a series of smaller stages during the week. "It's surreal, I don't think it's fully sunk in yet but the support has been amazing," she said.

"It's a big checkpoint to reflect on all the shows I've done and artists I've connected with, it's really special." Jaya said she "wasn't expecting anything" when she applied for the contest, but said winning had opened a lot of industry doors.

"I've had a lot of platforms and labels want to support me in different ways, as well as bigger rappers I've looked up to. Even my own fan base seems to feel stronger and that feels really nice," she said.

Having grown up in "quite stiff" Cambridge, Jaya only found the confidence to share her music when moving to study sociology at the University of Nottingham. "That's why I always say I was born in Cambridge but Nottingham raised me, Nottingham raised this musician that you see."

The Jamaican-Irish artist, who now bounces between Nottingham and Cambridge, continued: "It was people in Nottingham that really made me feel seen, I would say, being mixed race, the representation in Nottingham is really good. Whereas in Cambridge it was less so at the time, it's got better now.

Jaya performing on stage
Jaya credits Nottingham with giving her the confidence to share her music -Credit:JayaHadADream

"I didn't share my music at all until I went to Nottingham. I got that confidence through going to Nottingham, it was really a game-changer. The community really supports art, it's so good at working together. The scene is really respected and people really support upcoming people."

Jaya ditched her job as a teacher to pursue a full-time music career at the start of this year, but her sociology learnings have not left her, instead rooting themselves deep within her raps which often deal with identity and social issues. "My music's more abstract and I have more nuance in my bars.

"Sociology is all about your personal problems linking to a bigger picture and I feel like music is also about that. My music is trying to make people feel seen or give people an insight into a lifestyle they might not know about."

She again credits a lot of this influence to Nottingham and the "rebellious" side of the city. "In Cambridge where I grew up it was quite stiff and people were very conforming whereas in Nottingham there's a lot of diversity and different opinions and voices.

"It shapes me and my music because I felt like I could really express myself there." For all the good the city has done, she did say Nottingham City Council's complete cut of its arts budget was "really sad".

"It's going to be a bit worrying and unpredictable for people but I think it will all get sorted, I think things will get reshuffled, well I'm hoping." Despite all the positive messages of support Jaya has received on her social media since becoming Worthy Farm-bound, she has had to deal with the odd hateful comment.

But instead of ignoring the trolls, she opts for the tactic of tackling them head-on, often firing back at commenters, who tend to skulk off. "It's cathartic, I like getting it out of my system.

"Sometimes it's just for banter but sometimes I want to let people know real people are behind it. I like to reply sometimes because I know if certain people see their comments then it'll put them off dropping their music."

JayaHadADream will perform at Stand Up to Knife Crime at Metronome in Nottingham on July 24.