If you crossed Nina Simone with James Baldwin you might get something that sounds like Benjamin Clementine. Born and raised in London by strict Ghanaian parents, Clementine, now 34, left home and found himself sleeping rough on the streets of Paris. He was later discovered busking and signed to Virgin EMI. After moving back to London, he released his debut album At Least for Now, which won the 2015 Mercury Prize. Not a bad start for someone who cannot even read music and the accolades did not stop there. In February 2019, he was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, in recognition of his contribution to the arts. A number of critics have described him as becoming one of the great singer-songwriters of his generation. Looking at his videos and scanning his social media, one can see that Clementine has managed to create a consistent world. There are elements of “la chanson française” in his music, pulling in waltz rhythms and a strict focus on the quality of his lyrics. Despite his growing fame, he remains something of a cult figure. But perhaps the most striking aspect of his art is his voice: slightly off-kilter, yearning, and instantly recognisable.