The man known as Rory Graham is this year’s UK ambassador for Record Store Day, 21st April. He recently won the BRIT Award for Best Single for his worldwide hit ‘Human’, and his debut album of the same name has sold over a million copies in the UK alone.
Sussex-born soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man brought home a gong for Best British Single at this year’s BRIT Awards for ‘Human’, narrowly missing out as a runner up in the British Album of the Year and British Male Solo Artist categories. The singer was quick to thank everyone who has supported him back home in Brighton for the award, with a focus on High Focus, the local UK hip-hop label, and Rum Committee, the Brighton-based rap supergroup he’s a key member of. It seemed like he was just able to complete his thank-you list before his acceptance speech was cut short for swearing.
Despite the huge popularity of the BBC comedy sitcom Steptoe and Son in the 1960s and 70s, which helped maintain the rag and bone man’s status in English folklore, by the 80s they were mostly gone, consigned to the, er, scrapheap of history. But, as is the way with much of the 21st century so far, with the peculiar British tendency to view the past through rose-tinted glasses and give it new life, there has been a revival, albeit a minuscule one. You are extremely unlikely to see a rag and bone man with a horse and cart any more (they will now usually use a van) but, as poverty conditions continue to deepen for many in the UK, as always an opportunity is always being sniffed out for those looking to scratch out a living, however meagre.
Sussex-born and raised, Rory Graham is suddenly making a big splash. It’s been predicted by many, but time was seemingly running out for him. This veritable bear of a man, possessor of some fine tats (he has FUNK and SOUL on his fingers), a heavyweight wrestler’s bulk, and a finely sculpted beard, has been around for a few years now, including MCing for a drum’n’bass crew whilst still in his teens, before heading to Brighton where he joined Rum Committee, and performing at the legendary Slip Jam:B. He then collaborated with various hip-hop artists before hooking up with record producer Mark Carew, releasing the well-received Wolves EP in 2014, which included an appearance by Kate Tempest.