Initiated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, June is considered Black Music Month. In honor of the appreciation month, below are some of my favorite up and coming Black musicians who I think deserve more attention than they are getting!
- Amber Mark
Of Germain and Jamaican descent, Mark released her debut album 3:33am in 2017. Each song on the stage represents one of the six stages of grief and “Monsoon” which includes a sample of her late mother’s voice is one of my favorite songs. She released an EP titled Conexao in 2018 and its lead single, “Love Me Right” is captivating. I enjoy her husky voice and frequent harmonies in what Billboard considers as soulful pop that will make you dance and cry at the same time. Check out the music video for her latest song, “Generous” below.
- Eric Bellinger
Bellinger’s songwriting credits include songs by Usher, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and more. He even won a Grammy in 2011 for his contribution to Chris Brown’s album, F.A.M.E. for Best R&B Album. Bellinger released his debut solo album in 2014 but I started listening to him since I caught wind of his 2019 single, “Type a Way” featuring Chris Brown which is a BOP. Bellinger just dropped a new project a few days ago called Hors D’oeuvres after just releasing a collab album in April with Nieman J called Optimal Music. You’re welcome.
Of British, Irish and Jamaican descent, Mahalia signed with Atlantic Records at 13 years old and already toured with Ed Sheeran before releasing her debut studio album in 2019, winning YouTube’s One To Watch award and touring with Ella Mai. The acoustic version of her breakout single, “Sober” is what made me fall in love with her and was ecstatic when she was featured in one my friends’ favorite Youtube channels, A COLORS SHOW. Mahalia is able to make songs about heartbreak sound soulful and upbeat at the same time and has received praise from stars such as SZA and Kehlani.
- PJ Morton
Morton has played keyboard for Maroon 5 since 2010 and starting releasing solo music in 2012. In addition to having earned 13 Grammy nominations collectively with Maroon 5 and for his solo projects, Morton has achieved music goals that other artists only dream of such as performing at the Grammy’s, Saturday Night Live, and the Super Bowl. However, Morton felt burnt out and disheartened about his solo career, and he planned for his fourth album, Paul, to be his final solo album before running a sneaker store in his hometown in New Orleans. Morton won Best R&B Song for “Say So” which features one of my all-time favorite vocalists, JoJo. His solo sound is very different from that of Maroon 5 and I am so glad that he’s not throwing in the towel just yet.
- Kiana Lede
Lede is Black, Mexican, Native American and White. Signed to her first major record label at 15 because yes, she’s already been signed to two at just 23 years old, Lede recently released her debut album Kiki mid-pandemic and describes it as “an ode to a black/brown Aries in her early 20s using R&B as a cathartic release.” She can not only sing but also act, and has starred in MTV’s Scream and Netflix’s All About the Washingtons. I love that her song “Mad at You” samples “So Fresh So Clean” from one of my favorite groups, Outkast, and I’m in love with her and Ari Lennox’s buttery vocals on “Chocolate.” Her songs, “Can I” and “Get In The Way” are some of my favorites from her previous EP’s.
I was dumbfounded by R.LUM.R’s talent when I watched him live at Bonnaroo in 2018. With a falsetto praised by NPR and immaculate skills on guitar, R.LUM.R is compared to the likes of Frank Ocean but has an eclectic list of influences such as emo band, Coheed & Cambria as well as R&B artist, Sade. His breakout single, “Frustrated” was featured on multiple Spotify playlists in 2016 and garnered tens of million of streams. R.LUM.R released his debut studio album, Surfacing, late last year. See below of his cover of Kiana Lede’s single, “Ex!”
- Lyrica Anderson
VH1’s Love & Hip Hop Series is my guilty pleasure and I can’t help but root for Lyrica Anderson who has penned hits for stars including Demi Lovato, Tinashe and even Beyonce. Anderson recently released songs “Marriott” and “Act a Fool,” inspired by her tumultuous relationship with her husband, A1 Bentley, who is also behind hits from artists such as Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign. Talk about a power couple, if it wasn’t for cheating that is. Her songs have racked up millions of streams already and I hope her solo career will soon find as much success as her songwriting credits.
You may recognize his voice from Drake’s “Chicago Freestyle” but he has also opened up for Snoh Aalegra and has a co-sign from SZA. Believe it or not, Giveon used to feel self-conscious about his now famous baritone heavy voice. But it’s his unique sound that sets him apart from many other artists. Giveon released his debut EP Take Time just a couple months ago and I have it on repeat.