Best New Artist, Alessia Cara, is a voice for teens struggling to fit in

Alessia Cara accepts the Best New Artist award at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York, US, on Jan 28, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Canada's Alessia Cara, who rose from making YouTube videos in her bedroom to becoming a socially conscious pop singer, has bagged the Grammy for Best New Artist.

The 21-year-old from Toronto won the closely watched award in a field that included fellow young singer Khalid, with whom she collaborated with on the suicide prevention song 1-800-273-8255.

"I've been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid in my shower," Cara told the audience at Madison Square Garden in New York, thanking her fans.

"You are the reason I don't have to win Grammys in my shower any more."

She urged the industry not to forget the many "incredible artists making incredible music that need to be acknowledged, who don't always get acknowledged because of popularity contests and numbers games".

"I just wanted to encourage everyone to support real music and real artists because everyone deserves the same shot," Cara added.

Cara, who has a rich voice with a touch of soul, first came to prominence as a teenager recording YouTube videos with humorous but startlingly accurate impersonations of famous singers including Amy Winehouse and Taylor Swift.

Since finding her own voice as a singer, she has spoken to young people struggling to fit in.

Her first single, Here - set to the same Isaac Hayes soul sample as English trip-hop band Portishead's 1995 hit Glory Box - describes her dread at spending time at a party full of marijuana and overly loud music.

Scars To Your Beautiful, which also entered the top 10 on the US singles chart, focuses on body image as Cara sings of a young woman preoccupied by her appearance: "You should know you're beautiful just the way you are."

Speaking to AFP when she released her debut album, Know-It-All, Cara said she wanted to avoid the "usual stupid comparisons" made about teen pop stars.

"I wanted to steer away from that and show people that I'm real," she said.

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