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FLO win BBC’s Sound of 2023

The girl group fought off competition from the likes of Fred Again and Nia Archives

By Emma Wilkes

The three members of Flo all wear black and make faces in a press shot
FLO (Picture: Press)

FLO have been crowned the BBC’s Sound of 2023.

The London girl group, consisting of singers Renée Downer, Stella Quaresma and Jorja Douglas, fought off competition from the likes of Fred Again.., Nia Archives and Cat Burns to finish at the top of the BBC’s annual poll. The list was put together and voted for by 130 industry experts.

Previous winners of the annual poll include Adele, Sam Smith and Sam Fender. Last year’s title was claimed by PinkPantheress.

Stormzy broke the news to the trio, who he described “a breath of fresh air” who had “killed it in every single department” [via BBC].

“That’s insane, right?” Downer replied.

FLO formed in 2019, having been put together through auditions, but the three members of the group knew each other beforehand. Downer and Quaresma had attended the Sylvia Young Theatre school together and later met Douglas through social media. They signed to Island Records the following year before dropping their debut single, ‘Cardboard Box’, in March 2022. Their debut EP The Lead followed in July, which has been streamed over 70 million times and landed them appearances on Jimmy Kimmel’s US chat show and Later… With Jools Holland.

FLO told the BBC that their message is “to be strong in yourself, to be confident”.

“There is female empowerment – but everyone who listens should feel supported, inspired, independent,” said Quaresma. “We want them to feel the way music used to make us feel.”

The Sound of 2023 was open to new artists who had not yet achieved a top 5 album or more than two top 10 singles by October 31 2022. Artists who had appeared on TV talent shows in the last three years were ineligible. The 130 -strong voting panel included representatives from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Glastonbury Festival and the BBC, while previous nominees including Dua Lipa, Sam Smith, Foals and Stormzy also got to have their say.

Fred Again.. were declared runners up in the poll, while the top 5 was rounded out by Nia Archives, Cat Burns and Gabriels who came third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Last month, FLO became the first group to win the BRITs Rising Star Award.

FLO also featured in Rolling Stone UK last year where they discussed their plans for success.

“As a band we’re incredibly hard-working and hold ourselves to the highest standard. We never want to do something without giving our all,” Renée Downer said.