In this generation, it’s hard to pretend that issues of race and gender don’t dominate our society. One of the most oppressed groups of people in our society is women — women of color, specifically. Women of color have always been present in pop culture, screaming at the top of their lungs for the world to recognize them for who they are — powerful, emotional and resilient beings.
Their voices, though muted throughout history, have been a resounding and consistent force that continues to empower people all over the world. Women need women, and as long as we acknowledge one another, there is no force that can deny our power and influence. These artists of color have been emerging as heroines to females everywhere. Here are some of many voices that deserve to be recognized:
Yuna is a Malaysian pop vocalist and guitarist who is difficult not to love. Her voice, akin to that of an actual angel, echoes with such sincerity that your heart might break when she sings of unrequited, broken love. Listening to her music feels like you are reading her diary. The songs recount her feelings with an naïve, raw honesty.
SZA is an alternative rhythm and blues artist who delivers her stories with such clear direction that nothing is left for interpretation. Her music is honest, true and willing to address issues that some of us are too afraid to address ourselves. She portrays women as vulnerable creatures who are fully capable of recovery through self acceptance and self empowerment.
Kali Uchis is a Colombian-American pop artist who naturally emerged as an icon of our generation. She writes and produces her own music in both English and Spanish, has a sweet and tender style and rebels against the idea of female weakness. She reigns over her own universe, exuding nothing but grace and power.
Jhené Aiko is an rhythm and blues singer, rapper and songwriter with a multicultural background. She is of Japanese, African-American, Spanish, Dominican and German descent. Aiko is not afraid to admit that she has been hurt, and her transformative music is the embodiment of her pain and growth. Through her music, we follow her journey as she allows herself to fall repeatedly in and out of love while gaining wisdom she materializes into art. Ethereal and tragic, her voice narrates a story that is all too real to the listener.
"And so why should there be this thing about women not expressing their sexuality? There’s really no real reason why we can’t be as confident in our sexuality as a man. It’s just common sense. My advice is just to look in the mirror and realize that, you know, you’re equal to a man and anything a man can do, we’re more than capable of doing. And the things men are not ashamed to do, we shouldn’t be ashamed either." @galore
Syd Tha Kid, lead singer of soul band The Internet, is a gay singer, songwriter and producer. Her lyrics are directed toward women, and she opens up the industry towards LGBT-friendly music. For Syd, pronouns are a problem of the past. She’s charismatic, composed and speaks of her love affairs with admirable control.
Sevdaliza is a Dutch-Iranian singer who performs and produces in the realm of electronic, alternative rhythm and blues and experimental pop music. Her music is dark, and her lyrics are poetic and devastatingly beautiful. Raw and unperturbed by her emotional nakedness, her music is salvation to the woman who continues to reside in a quarantine of toxic romance.
Jillian Hervey, vocalist of the duo Lion Babe (alongside producer Lucas Goodman), has a vivacious musical presence. The stage name embodies all that she is — fierce and untamed. Through Hervey’s voice, her dominant personality refuses to be subdued.
NAO is a British singer-songwriter and record producer from East London. She’s a renegade artist with a sound that is an amalgamation of soul, funk, electronic and rhythm and blues. A master of lyricism, she writes her music with vividly graphic style.
Mitski is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter, and she is the living embodiment of uninhibited angst. In her lyrics, she speaks of the burdens she deals with as a woman, a person of color and simply as a human. Mitski’s lyrics touch upon topics so fragile we often forget to visit them. Mitski not only addresses these realities, but demands that you listen to them. In doing so, you may find your release.
Women of color are some of the most irrepressible forces I know. In this small fraction of representation, they demonstrate that they are capable of emotional vulnerability and arduous recovery. As women of color, these artists may be broken by a world that continues to repress them, but they thrive off the challenges and transform adversities into beautiful art.