The music world owes a lot to Black women
. For years, the musical stylings of superstars like
, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey,
, and so many more have been the soundtracks to our lives, their powerful voices taking us through the highs and the lows. But before they became some of the most famous people on the planet, they were young hopefuls with a dream of sharing their gifts with the world. They were singing at barbershops, in church choirs, in talent competitions — everyone's gotta start from somewhere.
In an industry that is marked by both racism and sexism,
Black women are often dealt a bad hand
. The popular saying of "twice as hard for half as much" applies, as musical artists struggle to pave their own paths while
maintaining agency over their own careers
. Show business is never easy, but if you're a Black woman, making it is ten times as hard.
Today, a plethora of young Black women are paving their own paths towards superstardom. This new class of singers have the talent to change the face of music as we know it. That is, if we start giving them the attention that they deserve.
I'll start. Ahead, just some of the rising Black women in music that you need to stop sleeping on.
Ari LennoxAri Lennox made history when she became the first woman to be signed to J.Cole's record label Dreamville Records in 2015, and she's killing it as the company's sole source of women energy. The D.C. native's discography is a perfect blend of the comforting sounds of soul and modern R&B, making every Ari song a staple for the millennial with questions about life and love. Add this song to your playlist: "Facetime (Remix)" Ari Lennox ft. Durand Bernarr Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images. Alex IsleyYou've no doubt heard of The Isley Brothers, but there's talent in the family's next generation, too. Alex picks up where her father Ernie and his brothers left off to bless music fans with a voice that is just as moving. Add this song to your playlist: "Road to You" Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images. ChloexHalleAfter a number of their YouTube covers went viral, the Bailey sisters (not twin!s) were snatched up by the celebrity of celebrities herself, Beyoncé. Under Bey's tutelage and the management of Parkwood Entertainment, this fun musical act dominated the charts with their debut album The Kids Are Alright and its 2020 followup The Ungodly Hour. What can I say — talent recognizes talent! Add this song to your playlist: "Baby Girl" Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images. Kiana Lede
Kiana Lede makes music for the sad girl who is still cool as hell, tears and all. The Republic Records musician occupies both spaces will ease, casually floating between songs that may make you cry ("EX") to tracks that will put you and your special someone in the mood ("Chocolate"). Add this song to your playlist: "Mad at Me" Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage. TeaMarrrThe first official artist on Issa Rae's music label Raedio, TeaMarrr's talents can't be denied. Her voice is just as unique as her aesthetic — you won't catch her anywhere without the signature silver streak in her hair or her mystical teacups — and her songs are so good that you won't be able to listen to them just once. Add this song to your playlist: "Chasing Amy" Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images. RAYEJorja Smith and Mahala aren't the only British singers in the game. Please direct your attention to RAYE, a singersongwriter whose sound spans everything from electropop to contemporary R&B. The 22-year-old Add this song to your playlist: "Confidence" ft. Maleek Berry Photo: Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images. VanJess
Like ChloexHalle, the Nigerian-born sisters also got their start by making covers on YouTube, but their following quickly grew as fans spotted the raw talent in the R&B duo. It didn't take long before VanJess hit the mainstage, collaborating with the likes of Masego, GoldLink, and Ari Lennox along the way. Add this song to your playlist: "Through Enough (Remix) ft. MNEK Photo: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images. KING
It's hard to put KING's sound in a box, but if I had to define it, I'd simply say that it's the music of the future. The trio calls upon the funk of acts like Earth, Wind, and Fire and adds their own dreamlike pop vibes, resulting in a debut album that never goes out of rotation. Add this song to your playlist: "The Greatest" Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.
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