Sounds Like: A young woman finding her voice amidst sounds and colors
For Fans of: Solange, Jhené Aiko circa Sailing Souls, Kelela
Why You Should Pay Attention: Ravyn Lenae is a high school senior – she graduates from the Chicago High School for the Arts this summer – who crafts thoughtful and highly lyrical electronic soul. On her 2015 debut Moon Shoes, reissued by Atlantic Records last year, she sings about life as a dreamy, sometimes-melancholy teenager in a softly assertive voice. Her just-released follow-up, the appropriately titled Midnight Moonlight, delves into more romantic concerns with the same quiet grace. From January to March, the 18-year-old toured across the country with hotly tipped rapper Noname. "Before I left, we had put together an academic plan for me where I would basically be doing school online," she says. "I thought it would be much easier juggling tour and school. But there's literally no time to even sleep." Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Lenae knew she wanted to pursue music at an early age. She sang in church and studied guitar and piano before she linked up with producer Monte Booker, who helped assemble her two EPs. "Honestly, I didn't know it was a project," she says of Moon Shoes. "I wasn't creating with an intention, I was creating solely for releasing my emotions and being creative," .
She Says: Lenae likes to connect colors with emotions. "I'm a very colorful person," she says. When asked to describe the difference between Moon Shoes and Midnight in the Moonlight, she explains, "Moon Shoes is very pink and yellow, and maybe orange, very bright, whereas Midnight Moonlight is purple and blue and, I don't know, gray. Not to say those colors are sad, because a lot of times people like to equate those colors with sadness, or [being] blue. But those colors are more emotion-felt, and deep, and sultry."
Hear for Yourself: In the short but evocative "Alive," Ravyn Lenae breaks free of a romantic attachment with no regrets. Mosi Reeves