Laura Mvula has urged young people not to cave in to the pressures of “millennial” life.
The singer-songwriter spoke as she accepted an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University.
She called on millennials to be patient as they navigate modern life, and resist being defined or drawn into competition.
Mvula also said that she herself has had to return to her roots in the Birmingham suburbs after suffering self-doubt and setbacks in her career.
The singer was conferred with the doctorate in the presence of the Chancellor of the university, Sir Lenny Henry.
Mvula paid tribute to the creativity of her childhood home and her parents’ support for meaningful music.
Speaking at the ceremony on Tuesday July 23, Mvula said: “There’s no race, there’s no rush, despite the pressures and pace of our millennial, modern life, constantly wrestling with the expectation that we should probably have it all figured out. There’s no competition.”
Mvula has said she suffered from impostor syndrome, and even when she was taking to the stage at the heights of her career, was concerned she would be shown to be a “wannabee”.
Her self-doubt was compounded at the 2014 Brits when she lost out on an award after daring to dream she could win.
She told assembled graduates: “I was nominated in the best female category.
“I envisioned walking triumphantly to receive my Brit award. I was halfway to standing when I realised my name was not Ellie Goulding.
“Despite my best efforts, I had allowed myself to be defined.”
Mvula has said she has been forced to fall back on her roots to find strength and direction in her career, and has thanked her family for their support.
She said: “There have been many times where I have had to find my way back to my foundation to begin again.
“Back to the green garden of Kings Heath, back to the practice room corridors.
“I was taught to embrace the excitement and turbulence of a creative musician’s life with the goal being to make music that was honest, innovative, from the heart.
“My thanks will always continue for my family.”