Music is a powerful form of art that connects us to each other, and intentionally supporting the diversity that exists amongst musicians is important. Plus, we all love the jolt of excitement that comes from jamming out to newly discovered artists that add to the soundtrack of our day.
Now is the time to listen closely because we’ve compiled a list of award-winning queer singers of colour that you should add to your playlist right now, and you can check them out below!
Known professionally as Kevin Abstract, Clifford Ian Simpson is a rapper, singer-songwriter, and director. A founding member of the hip hop boy band Brockhampton, his latest album Arizona Baby was released in April 2019. Complemented by Ghettobaby, the album’s second part, Abstract discusses his childhood through hip hop and rap songs.
Growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, Abstract ran away from home at 15 and began working on his debut album in 2014. He came out as gay in 2016 and his records often mention his sexuality, saying he will rap about being gay as long as he can imagine a fan in need of a voice.
Known by his stage name MNEK, Uzoechi Osisioma ‘Uzo’ Emenike has been nominated for a Grammy and received the ASCAP Vanguard Award. Boasting collaborations with other famous artists like Beyoncé, Joel Corry, and Zara Larsson, MNEK has built a large selection of dance-worthy music to listen to.
In association with Pride in Music, MNEK hosted a songwriting camp for LGBTQ+ singer-songwriters in 2019. With a desire for people to celebrate being Black and gay, MNEK uses his platform to help other queer singers find safe spaces to work.
A pop musician, Liggin’s newest album Ms. Out Tonight is full of playful pop jams that seek to disrupt the norms that dominate the industry.
Openly lesbian, she has received praise for top songs like ‘Girlfiend’ and ‘Flowerbomb’ that combine a soft voice with cocky lyrics.
An American musician, singer, and songwriter Howard is well-known for her role as lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of bands Alabama Shakes, Thunderbithc and Bermuda Triangle. For her role within Alabama Shakes, she is well decorated with nine Grammy Award nominations.
Her newest 2019 album, noteworthy for her debut as a solo artist, Jaime received critical acclaim. With seven Grammy Nominations and an award of Best Rock Song for the song ‘Stay High,’ the queer artist’s immense musical success is best understood the second you click play on any of her songs.
Kehlani Ashley Parrish’s career began with her member as a lead vocalist for the group PopLyfe that appeared in the sixth season of America’s Got Talent. After leaving the group and later establishing herself as a solo artist, her newest album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t was released in 2020.
Identifying as a lesbian in a 2021 live stream, she has spoken about sexuality on Twitter. Kehlani has stated it is important to her to include female pronouns in her music.
Tyler, the Creator
Known professionally as Tyler, the Creator, Tyler Gregory Okonma is a rapper and record producer. With music based on a variety of styles including alternative hip hop, hip hop, bedroom pop, jazz rap, R&B, and neo-soul, Okonma’s breadth of artistic talent is evident. Call Me If You Get Lost, released in 2021, is his latest album.
Okonma has described himself as gay in interviews and his lyrics.
Commonly known for her 2017 “I am Her” release, Diamond’s music consists mainly of soul and R&B, and includes elements of blues, rock, hip-hop, and folk. Diamond is an activist who champions Trans rights through her music. She has headlined the 2019 Washington, DC Capital Pride Concert and was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist in 2019.
Her song ‘I am America,’ was included on Billboard’s list of the best LGBTQ songs of 2020.
Known professionally as Serpent, Josiah Wise is openly gay and has used gospel music to express his sexuality from a young age. In 2021 Serpent released Deacon which received raving reviews for its celebration of Black, gay love. With 11 songs, the album is full of self-exploration, queerness, and desire.
In an interview with the Guardian, Serpent says he sought to write about “the joys of dating men and dating Black men specifically.” Publicly championing the need for queer singers, Serpent is a musical force to be reconned with.
A rapper, performance artist, poet and activist, Blanco’s career began on YouTube in 2010. Since then, Blanco has been called one of hip hop’s queer pioneers. With a focus on music videos and art performances, they focus on being as true to themselves as possible. Their latest album, Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep, was released in 2021 and is a mixture of R&B, house, and funk.
Blanco made her HIV positive status public on Facebook during Pride season, and the positive response of support encouraged them to continue making art. As of 2019, Blanco identifies as Transgender and uses ‘she’ or ‘they’ pronouns.
Alright, that’s the list. Now is the time to expand your playlists!
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