Some important points you should know about Kelela at the start is how to pronounce her name and that her music videos always deliver. Kelela is not pronounced how it may appear, sound it out like Kuh-luh-lah. Addressing my second point, her video for “Frontline” is the best music video of the year. The song is a jam and secondly it look Sims inspired. It took me back to the Playstation 2 days, and I was fully present for it.
A queer identity undoubtedly can impact someone’s life overall and in the day to day, but it is not all that defines a person. That identity can just be one small piece of a puzzle. Especially for a woman of color this identity is just an added layer of oppression from society. Kelela embraces her identity in her music so her audience and women like her feel they can relate to her.
Kelela is an artist to admire. She followed her love for music into a career fairly late into the game, given most artist now want to get a head start and get into the music industry at young age and capitalize on youth to get promotion. Kelela’s journey into the music industry was a slow burn that payed off once she debuted. She’s gotten widespread praise from critics and her peers. Including high profile collaborations with Solange and the Gorillaz.
She released her debut album last year, Take Me Apart. After listening to her emotionally charged songs you see her as an artists revealing all her vulnerabilities. On top of the honest lyrics she has complimented the lyrical content with slick production. Most of her work has dealt with relationships, a lot of which is focused on the hardships and ends of relationships. Her EP, Hallucinogen, is noteworthy for detailing a the start and end of a relationship in reverse chronological order.
On top of pursuing her dream and finding success in doing so, Kelela has always stayed true to herself. She wants her music to speak to fellow women of color. As well as highlight how the intersection of her identity impacts all areas of life. Being a queer woman of color has its own unique experiences, experiences that often aren’t represented. Kelela is here to give that audience a voice. She has agency over her music and image, so the end product is always true to who she is and a narrative rooted in honesty.
You can catch Kelela next month in Chicago during the Pitchfork Music Festival as part of the Friday lineup.