Neo Jessica Joshua, better known as Nao (also stylised as NAO; /ˈneɪ.oʊ/), is a British singer-songwriter and record producer from East London. Her sound has been described as soul combined with electronic music, funk and R&B. Nao coined the term “wonkyfunk” to describe her style. She released her debut album, For All We Know, in 2016.
Neo Joshua was born in Nottingham but moved to East London as a young child. She studied vocal jazz at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London and went on to be a backing singer for artists such as Kwabs and Jarvis Cocker. For six years up to 2014 she sang in an all-girl a cappella group called The Boxettes. In October 2014 she released her first EP, So Good, it reached number 4 on the iTunes electronic chart and the title track made the BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1Xtra national playlists in the United Kingdom. This was followed by a second EP, 15 February (II MMXV), in May 2015, receiving the “Best New Music” tag from Pitchfork Media.
Nao played Glastonbury Festival in June 2015. In September 2015 Nao was named as a nominee for best newcomer at the 2015 MOBO Awards. Nao was a featured vocalist and writer on Disclosure’s UK number 1 album, Caracal, on the track “Superego”. She was featured in the long list for the BBC Sound of…2016 prize in November 2015, ultimately being named in third place in January 2016. Nao also featured as a co-writer on the track “Velvet / Jenny Francis (Interlude)” on Stormzy’s debut album Gang Signs & Prayer.
Her debut album, For All We Know, was released on 29 July 2016, leading to a Brit Nomination for Best British Female Solo Artist.
In 2017, she released a buzz single, entitled “Nostalgia”, as she tells fans that she was back in the studio recording material for her second album. During that time, she also appeared as a co-writer in Mura Masa’s self titled debut album on the song “Nothing Else!”, featuring Jamie Lidell.
In mid-2018, she revealed that her next single was to be called “Another Lifetime” and co-written and produced by debut album affiliates Grades and Stint. It was eventually released in June 2018. She also performed live with Chic and Mura Masa on a new song, entitled “Boogie All Night”, which is expected to appear on Chic’s comeback 2018 album It’s About Time, where she will appear as a featured artist on the song, alongside Mura Masa.