The music industry continues to be changed for the better by Black talent. From R&B, gospel, rock and roll, hip hop, there’s no genre that’s untouched by Black artistry, especially when you consider Beyoncé’s recent country era. And Black queer artists continue to carry the musical torch, giving us all bops for our playlists.
Whether you fancy Lil Nas X‘s rhymes, Janelle Monáe‘s Prince-esque grooves, or Victoria Monét‘s silky smooth vocals, Black queer musicians are showing off and showing out in the music game. And while you may know popular Black queer artists like Kehlani, Frank Ocean, and Big Freedia, there are plenty of fabulous Black queer singers to choose from.
So, here are 5 Black queer singers you should know.
Whether you’re in the club or in your bedroom, Kelela‘s otherworldly bops always set the vibes right. Her fans, known as “Kelelians,” know this and have been enjoying the D.C. native’s ever-expanding sound since the release of her 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me. Fast forward and we’re still at the rave with her latest release, 2023’s Raven.
A member of alternative hip-hop collective Odd Future, along with singer Frank Ocean and rapper Tyler the Creator, and founder of the band The Internet, which also features musician Steve Lacy, Syd has found herself in the company of some phenomenal artists. But that doesn’t mean Syd isn’t a force on her own. While fans can fall in love with songs like “Fast Car” and “CYBAH” from her latest album Broken Hearts Club, they’re already aware of her producing and songwriting skills, or at least Beyoncé is. She enlisted her to create the Grammy-winning “Plastic on the Sofa” from Renaissance.
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King Isis is in a league of their own and their music reflects that. Using their stage name to pay tribute to their great-great-grandmother, Omega King, who was an opera singer, King Isis’ sound takes on influences from rock and R&B to jazz and blues, to creates songs that traverse through pain, growth, and transformation. King Isis’ latest EP scales reflects that there’s no genre box that can contain them.
Destin Conrad first gained popularity from his short videos on the now defunct social media app Vine. And while Vine’s lifespan was short, it helped connect the Tampa, Florida native with R&B superstar Kehlani. Since then, Destin has been perfecting his brand of R&B with songs like “Open,” “Submissive,” and, most recently, “Same Mistake” with Alex Isley on his latest album Submissive 2.
Josiah White’s stage name, serpentwithfeet, is a reference to the prelapsarian snake, the same snake that tempted Eve in Christianity. Having been raised in the church, surrounded by gospel music, and classically trained as an opera singer, serpentwithfeet’s discography reflect these influences. Mix in lyrics about queer love, longing, and lust across intoxicating beats and you have a sonic recipe that has captivated fans with songs like “Fellowship”, The Inspection‘s “The Hands,” and “Safe Word.”
There are plenty of Black pop stars, like Chlöe, Normani, and Bree Runway, and a handful of them, Tinashe, are queer.
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