An adult-alternative artist with a refined, jazz-inflected style and tender vocal delivery, Malaysian singer/songwriter Yuna came to prominence via social media in the mid- to late 2000s. Her breakthrough hit "Deeper Conversation" won Best Song at the Malaysian equivalent of the Grammys after its release in 2008. She went on to international success, recording with Pharrell Williams and touring with Lollapalooza in 2012. "Crush," a single pairing Yuna and American hitmaker Usher from her third album, Chapters, reached the R&B charts in the U.S. and topped the singles chart in Malaysia in 2016.
Born Yunalis binti Mat Zara'ai in the town of Kedah, Yuna began writing songs at age 14. She soon taught herself to play guitar and performed live for the first time in 2006 while attending law school. Yuna went on to net over one million plays after uploading her music to social media. This online success led to a record deal with the Fader label.
Joined by guitarist Pa'an, bassist Efry Arwis, and drummer Adib Azfar, Yuna made her recorded debut in Malaysia with a self-titled EP in 2008. It snagged five Anugerah Industri Muzik nominations. She took home four trophies, including Best New Artist and Best Song, for "Deeper Conversation." The Decorate EP followed two years later and was released stateside in 2011. It included the viral hit "Rocket," which won raves in mainstream U.S. music publications and from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. In the meantime, Yuna was nominated as one of MTV Iggy's Best New Bands in the World in 2011, and she marked the occasion by playing at the historic MTV Studios. She rang in 2012 with the single "Live Your Life," produced by Pharrell Williams, as a preamble to her self-titled full-length debut, which arrived that April. It reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Later that year, Yuna shared the Lollapalooza stage with the likes of Florence + the Machine, Jack White, and Childish Gambino. Her second full-length, the Verve-issued Nocturnal, returned her to the Heatseekers chart upon its release in 2013. She performed on late-night TV's Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2014.
Yuna returned in 2016 with the hit "Crush" featuring Usher. It was included on the album Chapters, which peaked at number 16 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart later the same year. She performed another single from Chapters, "Used to Love You," on Late Night with Seth Myers in mid-2017, standing in for Jhené Aiko, who was featured on the studio version of the song. The stand-alone single "Better Now," a cover of Post Malone, followed in 2018, with "Forevermore," the first single from her fourth long-player, which premiered in the first half of 2019. ~ Marcy Donelson & Chrysta Cherrie