Kelela's Steady Rise
Kelela Mizanekristos' voice wisps like smoke from my speakers as her single "LMK" blasts through my speakers. Her equally smoky video for the song features her in multiple 90s inspired wigs and outfits as she dances in a long hallway filled with other people. The song is inspired heavily by the honest lyricism that pervaded the music she listened to as a child, but also features deep synth and electronic features that are the makings of a pop and modern R&B star.
Kelela was born and raised in Washington D.C. and always had a passion for music, so I understood her story almost immediately. In D.C., Duke Ellington School of the Arts was (and still is) the blueprint for stellar students trained professionally by world-renowned artists. Kelela was able to ace an audition to the school but was not able to afford the tuition. As a result, she figured that she had missed her chance to be a star.
Clearly this wasn't the case and she was able to release singles starting in 2014. She released a mixtape, “Cut 4 Me” in 2013, an EP in 2015 called “Hallucinogen” and was featured in multiple singles across different genres, spanning from Gorillaz to the musician, Kindness.
Kelela is moving at her own pace. Her debut album, “Take Me Apart” is doing well in British charts and she is working with Saint Heron Management where she gets to work with her good friend Solange to create a space where women of color can flourish. She is a woman who knows what she wants and crafts each song to her liking. It is obvious she has an ear for phrasing and intonation from her jazz background and appreciates the full process for her art.