Shall we celebrate Black Irish music this St Patrick’s day 🇮🇪 🍻?

Women in music News: 5 Black Irish singers to listen to right now!

A burgeoning Irish Hip Hop and RNB scene has seen the light of day for the past five years. I kid you not!

Irish music is taking the world by storm, and I promise you don’t want to be left out! Like i have!

All in all, I must admit I do heart a good old Cranberries, Snow Patrol, The Corrs, Boyzone (I am not ashamed!), or brand new band New Dad‘s song now and again. However, no matter how eclectic my taste for music is, I would always go back to my first love. That is to say: Urban, Soul and RNB.

Funny enough, Irish urban music never crossed my mind. On no account did I listen to it nor did I pay it any mind. Today, I believe that everything happens for a reason and that I actively made an effort to know what black people were up to musically in Ireland, because it aligned with the stars, in order for me to write this article. This was meant to be. Hence, it begs the question: Is there any black music in Ireland? And if there is, what does it sound like? When you think of Irish music, you probably think of The Pogues and their Fairytales of New-York or the pop music mentioned earlier. You probably can’t imagine that the Irish underground urban scene is booming with quality acts, showing us where it’s at. Do you? I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it in my wildest dreams.

Well, I’ll be damned. I never actually sat down and thought of it; it never crossed my mind that black people in Ireland would make music that would appeal to me. This was astonishing. 1) There are black people in Ireland, born and bred just like I was in France,  2) There is an emerging underground urban music scene in Ireland that deserves all of our attention.

What a better way to celebrate women and Irish culture than through black music in Ireland? In honour of Women History Month honouring women’s achievements across the globe, and after bumping into incredibly talented Irish rapper-singer Denise Chaila. I asked myself what I knew about Black Irish music? And more importantly, do I even know any black Irish female singers? The upcoming St Patrick’s day celebrated worldwide prompted me to learn more about this scene so obscure to me and to many.

Let’s get educated people, I certainly needed a lesson on this topic!

Denise Chaila: Zambian-Irish singer

I’ve recently grown attached to BBC radio 6 (Brilliant radio, and I recommend it for music lovers who crave eclecticism and non-commercial music all day on rotation. Tune in to Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on Saturdays! This certainly helped me get through this lockdown in style 😉), where I randomly came across Zambian born, Ireland based rapper-singer Denise Chaila in her song Anseo (Single mix) featuring Zimbabwean-born Irish rapper Jafaris. It was the best thing I heard in a while, so refreshing and different. Little did I know both acts were Irish, which geared me to do some research on black Irish for the world to see how blinded we were all to this talent. 🤦🏾‍♀️

Denise Chaila ft. Jafaris Anseo

In Anseo, she declares herself pharaoh, who would dare object!

I was blind ,now I can see they say. Well, this is a fantastic discovery.

Gal Dem’s one to watch 2020 recently entered the Official Irish Homegrown Chart Top 20 and is absolutely gifted. You will not hear the end of it any time soon. The Irish-Zambian act was the highest-charting ranking artist in 2020 with her self-titled song Chaila from her first mixtape Go Bravely, teasing people how they wrongly pronounce her name.

She was featured in the Irish Times “50 people to watch in 2020” and released a big project this year. Crossing fingers, I literally cannot stand the suspense.

Check out her mind-blowing performance at RTÉ’s Choice Music Prize, to which she won the artist of the year award competing in the best album and best song categories. (The equivalent of the mercury Prize! How exciting!!!)

Black Irish Singer Denise Chaila performance on RTÉ Choice Music

She blessed the National Gallery of Ireland with her presence by delivering at Other Voices’ (Live music series broadcasted on Irish TV channel RTÉ#Courage2020 performance to promote her single Chaila. She just released a brand new single under narolane records entitled Water, with references to Mami Watta. Any African knows this is rather trippy and intriguing at the same time. Bring it on, Denise!

Her single Copper Bullet from her Dual Citizenship EP resonated so much in Ireland that she slowly became the face of Hip Hop in her country. Honestly, it does for me also. Her background as a child of immigrants coming from Africa, being born and bred in a foreign country, certainly is something I can relate to myself. Additionally, the way people mispronounce her name is also something I encountered from time to time growing up. No, we never get used to it!  So, putting it into a song is a genius move; I wish I could have thought about it beforehand…Enough about me now!

Artists like Denise Chaila are so important in Ireland that they offer more diversity to the ears, the eyes and the world. We see black people creating music, and it portrays a more diverse and accurate picture of what Ireland is in 2021. A country with immigrants and children of immigrants, born and bred, or who were just raised in a land they call home simply because it IS their home. Denise Chaila cataloguing her life in Ireland and as a black Irish makes the phrase representation matters more relevant than ever.

Denise Chaila – Water (narolane label MC GOD KNOWS and MuRli)

They described it as a “baptism” the manifestation of the liberation and celebration of black joy. Uplifting right?

On St. Patrick’s Day Denise Chaila will be take part into JAMESON CONNECTS JESSIE REYEZ AND FRIENDS at Jameson Connects. So see you there!

Denise Chaila is the face of Spotify’s The Best of Fresh EIRE 2020 playlist. Get it, girl!

Black Irish artist Denise Chaila

Aby Coulibaly

The 21-year-old Dublin-based singer’s debut single Taurus, released in July last year, was described by Gal Dem magazine as “teetering on a precipice, with neo-soul on one side, and confessional rap on the other.” The artist featured in the article as one of the best new releases of the summer of 2020. Indeed, the track has garnered nearly 850K streams on Spotify alone.

Her brand new single, Long Nights, following Taurus and Maybe, is already doing better than Taurus, as it garnered more than double the number of views on YouTube.

Long Nights – Aby Coulibaly

Aby explains that the song is about girls hating each other instead of supporting and elevating one another. A strange encounter with a girl who mistreated her for no apparent reason inspired her to write this song.

“Long nights are about women who tear each other down instead of lifting each other. I wrote it the day after I had a weird encounter with a girl who mistreated me for no reason, and it was so crazy because she didn’t know me… This encounter inspired the song, and it made me think about women competing with each other instead of empowering each other.” 

Aby Coulibaly

Have you ever had this sort of encounter? What’s your story? Tell me in the comment section.

I have, and I think it’s essential for us to talk about acts of wickedness amongst women, especially during this month, in which we are championed. Some behaviour can be so toxic; one needs to protect their energy constantly.

What a beautiful way to do it than to turn it into art. I’m here for all of this!

Not only is she an accomplished singer-songwriter Aby has also founded her record label called Chamomile Records.

Moreover, Aby was promoted by Spotify, which featured her in a plethora of playlists, namely: Boho & Chill, Lush + Ethereal, Nightcap.

And on The Dotty Show on Apple Music.

Check out her set on Boiler Room; she was spectacular!

Black Irish Singer – Aby Coulibaly

Aby Coulibaly in Feb 2021

Although her music belongs to the alternative RNB genre, her inspirations range from Erykah Badu, James Blake and Empire of The Sun, which explains her singular and rich music universe.

Earlier last year, Aby collaborated with Daire Patel on Sirens. A melodic rap song with a lo-fi sound giving us all the feels of a chilled out and smooth hip hop in the likes of Frank Ocean, reaching nearly 100K streams on Spotify!

In February, Aby Coulibaly reached number 17 at the Top 20 Homegrown Tracks.

Who can stop her?

Tolü Makay: Nigerian-Irish singer

Afro-Irish soul artist born in Nigeria and raised in Ireland, Tolü’s idols are big names such as Amy Winehouse or Erykah Badu. Her buzzworthy first EP, Being released in October last year, catalogued her most profound thoughts on self-confidence and self-worth, which contributed to it being catapulted to number 1 on Ireland’s RTE Radio 1’s airplay chart and You Are Enough was described by BBC’s Across the Line as “the best song in the world”.

Check her out on International Women’s day upholding the #ChooseYourChallenge.

Indeed, she is pretty involved in the fight to cater for mental health; she curated a panel of discussions for black creatives in Ireland.

Tolü MakayWild Thang video

The film /music video will travel to Dublin International Film Festival. What a fantastic news, Tolü! That’s what I call black girl magic!

Coming from a practising Christian family, she was often at church as she remembers her earliest singing memory. Very shy, it is only years after, that she finally found her voice after she left the corporate world to fulfil her dreams of becoming a full-time singer. And she sure did! Well done, Tolü!

I can genuinely relate to her story, living a job you hate to do what you were brought to this world, because it was your calling. It’s a beautiful story of a young woman daring to take a leap of faith and listen to her desires. Having a voice or rather finding her authentic voice. It’s beautiful.

Check out her one of a kind RTE New Year’s Eve broadcast of N17 Cover from Saw Doctor, which reduced Irish TV presenter Graham Norton to tears and reached over 600K spectators.

Like rapper Denise, Tolü struggles with her dual identity as an African and an Irish woman. She recently discussed the issue on the Tommy Tiernan Show about “being too black to be Irish and too Irish to be black”. Tolü is to shine brighter than diamonds as she prepares to tour the USA, the UA successfully covering N17. It’s quite refreshing to see that the experience these singers experience as black girls in a country they grew up in are similar to mine , who grew up in Paris. It’s such a particular feeling to have your personal story echoed by others’ stories.

Black Irish Singer Tolü Makai

Shiv: Zimbabwean- Irish artist

Shiv is a House DJ turned soul singer-songwriter and producer. She is based in Dublin and was born in Zimbabwe. Her taste in music is vast, but her love for 90s RNB can be reflected in her somewhat alternative soul/RNB/low-fi hip hop sound. She refers to her unique sound as emotional escapism. Her musical inspirations are Frank Ocean, Pip Millett, et Lianne La Havas. After being discovered on YouTube, she never looked back. Her debut single Here, along with her second single, Golden received instant critical acclaim.

Her newest song, Hold Me from her EP Me 2 Me, is about self-discovery, and it is magnificently produced.

From her smooth mesmerising vocals to the neo-soul vibes, I can only want more.

Check her out re-visiting Golden with Nealo.

About the rise of the urban Irish music scene, she explained:

I didn’t listen to a great deal of Irish music growing up, the big artists like Sinead O’Connor, The Cranberries and U2, of course, but I only really started actively listening to Irish music in the last 2-3 years. The scene is growing so quickly in so many different directions, which is amazing to see. Some Irish artists I’m currently listening to are Aby Coulibaly, Zapho, Monjola, Nealo, Briien, April; the list goes on!’

Shiv

This is how she sees Irish music involving in the future:

‘I think it’s only set to grow bigger and better. The infrastructure for music in Ireland outside of the commercial stuff didn’t really exist up until relatively recently, and that’s down to the early Irish Hip-Hop artists that paved the way for everyone else to realise that there is more to Ireland, to Irish culture and Irish music than what we had grown up seeing and hearing. I’m so excited to see what comes next for Ireland and watch our little island making a bigger and bigger mark on the world.’

Shiv

Shiv is open to collaborations as she believes it’s the only way to grow musically. Who do you think she should collaborate with out of these artists?

Let me know in the comment section 😊

Check out her song called Letting You Know about realisation, self-reflection and becoming.

What do you guys think?

Is she a gem or what? 💋

Also, Golden has reached over 3M streams on Spotify! What an achievement! This girl is flying!

One thing that makes me enjoy this lockdown is discovering stars in the making and outstanding music. Thank goodness for this. I am so pleased that artists got found during the lockdown and are blossoming amid the terrible times we’re subjected to. Hopefully, the situation will improve sooner than later for these up and coming gifted creatives. Wishing them all the best for this year and beyond 🙏🏾

Loah: Sierra Leonean-Irish singer

Irish-Sierra Leonean Afro-Soul singer-songwriter is a well-established rising star with a couple of EPs under her: Her debut EP This Heart released in 2017 and a collection of remixes the following year. She was active in the performance front by taking part in various festivals such as The Dublin Fringe Festival, Cork Jazz Festival, Body & Soul and she toured in the UK, the USA and Sierra Leone.

Her collaboration with New York rapper Bas was worth the secret.

Loah‘s most listened song on Spotify Unveiled garnered over 3M streams! She is magical!

Here’s a clip of Loah singing in honour of Women’s International Day

What do you think?

Her video will be featured at the Dublin Film Festival. Just like Tulü‘s.

In 2019, the Afro-Soul singer starred as Mary Magdalene in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice‘s Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican. She collaborated with music greats such as Hozier, Bilal, Ron Gilmore (Lauryn Hill, Ari Lennox) , Sierra -Leonean rapper Drizilik and her sister Fehdah to name a few.

Leoh performing at Others Voices last December

Unveiled music video

Loah performing her song Cortège

What do you guys think?

How did you like my 5 black Irish female artists to follow? Not bad, heh?

Happy St Patrick’s to you all! 🍻

Don’t miss out on some brilliant performances from Irish artists tomorrow.

Denise Chaila’s St Patrick performance is one you cannot miss!

How refreshing was it to discover black Irish female singers? I personally am thrilled I have learnt something by expanding my musical knowledge. I am now following all of these artists on Spotify, I hope you are too! No time to waste now! Where have they been all my life⁉️ Better late than never!

Happy St Patrick’s Day 🍻💃🏾 to you all, Cheers to the music 🎻!

11th blog entry: Black Irish female singers

How did you guys liked these Irish singers? Which one did you prefer? Who do you think is will be the first star?

Let me know in the comment section!

Thank you for reading 💋


Phew, you made it! Well done! If you like this post, check out my previous post! Down here 👇🏾 AND see you next week for my BONUS of the Colourism series 👋🏾 LIKE, SHARE AND DISCUSS 💟

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