5 female r&b artists to watch in 2019
ELIZA, Cleo Sol, Joy Crookes, Dounia and Raveena deserve a spot on your new playlist.
Photo via YouTube.
This article originally appeared on i-D US.
Last year saw an exciting explosion of women in every genre of music, but particularly in rhythm and blues. From ELIZA's eclectic new album to Indian American goddess Raveena's stunning videos, these women have made remarkable strides in their field and are doing important work.
Get your year started with five female R&B artists to watch out for in 2019:
ELIZA’s vibe is funky, jazzy, sexy, and just plain fun. The English R&B artist began releasing singles in 2017, garnering an audience of thousands to eagerly anticipate her debut album, A Real Romantic, released just last month.
A Real Romantic is eclectic in the best way; while the traditional R&B tones of “Wasn’t Looking” and “Livid” may differ greatly from the slower, almost techno-beats of “Putting Out Fires,” ELIZA finds a way to seamlessly blend the songs with her captivating instrumentals. ELIZA is truly multi talented artist — in addition to writing all of her own songs — she has directed all her own music videos, including “Livid” and “Wasn’t Looking,” effortlessly bringing her retro, punk vision of music to life.
She is set to tour Europe in the first months of 2019 and has already sold out several of her shows.
London based songstress Cleo Sol stepped onto the music scene very recently, but is already making a huge splash. Her debut EP, Winter Songs was released in March 2018. A short collection of four heartbreakingly beautiful tunes, the album combines Sol’s sultry, powerful voice with her personal and thoughtful lyrics to create music that is pensive, thought provoking, and incredibly unique. Sol’s instrumentation takes her music to a whole new level; a rich, intentional percussive sound and occasional use of light flute add spiritual elements to her music, giving Sol’s songs an earthy, ancestral vibe that is truly rare.
Sol shines brightest in her live performances, such as the artists’ enchanting rendition of her single “Why Don’t You” for the popular Youtube channel COLORS, where she demonstrates her flawless vocals and natural musicality. The artist is set to do more performances in the next year, and has already booked a gig with the Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards in London in January 2019.
Simply put, Joy Crookes’ music is powerful. This 20-year-old R&B prodigy is already captivating the globe with her unique sound. The child of a Bengali mother and an Irish father, Crookes grew up listening to a wide variety of music and it shows. Her debut EP, Influence is a beautiful combination of soul, indie, and R&B, all blanketed with Crookes’ truly passionate musicianship.
Crookes’ songs are not only beautiful, but truly empowering. The final song on her EP, “Power,” is a perfect example of this. It’s lyrics include thought provoking and pithy lines such as “Can’t take my power/ You got nothing on me,” and “Melanin is not your enemy” to stand as a call to power for women everywhere. The song’s accompanying video, which Crookes directed herself, is stunning. Through completely black and white visuals and an all-female cast, the video is stripped back and provides a simple yet needed take on the empowerment of young women of color. Crooke’s second music video, “Don’t Let Me Down,” which premiered on i-D, similarly provides cultural commentary along as the artist creates a visual ode to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, beautifully honoring her Indian heritage.
Crookes has a song for every vibe. While slower ballads such as “Power” and “Don’t Let Me Down” are certainly in the artists’ repertoire, Crookes cannot be contained to one style as evidenced by her jazzy and upbeat single “Mother May I Sleep With Danger.” This artist is sure to continue shining in 2019, as she is set to tour England in the beginning months of the new year.
NYC's own Dounia knows what she wants and is unafraid of singing about it —perhaps that’s what makes her music so endearing. The young R&B singer and rapper first released her debut album Intro To in 2017 and the artist has only gotten better ever since. Dounia has already established herself as a musical force — in the first year after her debut album was released, touring with R.LUM.R and Jordan Rakei. Last November she released her second album The Avant Garden and it just might be her best work yet.
The album illustrates all the best aspects of Dounia’s music: witty lyrics, effortless vocals, and background instrumentals that you can’t help but bop your head along to. It’s clear Dounia knows exactly who she is and exactly what kind of music she wants to put out; the album is cohesive in the best way, and each song has a fantastic beat from the title single “Avant Garde” to the Kehlani-collaboration “Rich Girl Mood.”
Dounia is not only a musician, but an activist. The artist is an advocate for body positivity, particularly for women and people of color.
To listen to Raveena’s music is to be transported to another world. The Indian-American R&B singer emerged in 2016 with her beautifully silky single “You Give Me That,” immediately establishing herself as an artist with unique talent and vision.
Raveena’s 2017 debut album, Shanti is a beautifully vulnerable collection of songs. The artist seamlessly combines sage lyrics with soothing instrumentals to give her fans an ultimately soothing and healing listening experience. So far this year the artist has released several singles many of which, including "Honey" and "Temptation," pay tribute to the artists’ Indian heritage through the use of sitar and traditional Indian instrumentals. In the music video for "Temptation," Raveena explores her sexuality and beautifully normalizes feminine sexual fluidity through romance depicted in the stunning visuals.
Raveena is set to release her second album in 2019 and sure to hit the road touring.