Written by: Aayushi Agarwal
As a queer individual, I often search for artists who are like me, who make art for people like me. Be it heart wrenching lyrics about struggling with one’s identity, or a display of queer joy, there is so much to cherish in these musical artists’ work. Here are some of my favourite LGBTQ+ artists of colour along with my favourite songs by them to add some variety to your playlists!
1. Rina Sawayama
Favourite Songs: Tokyo Love Hotel, Cherry
An openly pansexual Japanese-British singer and songwriter, Sawayama is a popstar you cannot afford to miss out on. With elements of 00’s pop, rock, and R&B, among other genres, Sawayama’s music is uniquely hers. Her last album Hold the Girl is a narrative of introspection that aims to heal her inner child, with honest lyrics like “If I could talk to you / I’d tell you not to rush, you’re good enough / You don’t have to lose what makes you you.” I got the chance to see her live last December, and she truly is a force to be reckoned with, balancing lively dance performances with raw seated acoustics.
2. Raveena Aurora
Favourite Song: If Only
Raveena is a bisexual Indian American singer-songwriter, producing music combining elements of R&B, soul, and jazz. With lyrics about themes like identity politics, sexuality, and mental health, she has described her songwriting process as a kind of catharsis, one that definitely resonates with her listeners as well.
3. Omega Sapien
Favourite Songs: SEXY NUKIM (feat. RM of BTS), JUST FUN!
Omega Sapien is a South Korean rapper, who is also a member of the alternative music collective Balming Tiger. Blending an expanse of sounds and genres beyond rap and hip-hop, Omega Sapien crosses boundaries with his music with influences from his third culture upbringing.
Favourite Songs: everything will be alright, Love Affair
Born to an African American father and a Japanese mother, UMI is described as having a “lo-fi, alternative, laid back R&B style.” She names Frank Ocean, D’Angelo, Jhené Aiko, and SZA as her biggest influences. The music video for her single “wish that i could” was released during Pride Month last year, featuring three queer couples, including UMI and her partner/producer Vron.
5. Hope Tala
Favourite Song: Leave It On The Dancefloor
A British singer-songwriter, Hope Tala describes herself as genre-less, though her songs regularly draw from R&B, soul, alternative, pop, and Bossa Nova. In her words, “I’m someone who doesn’t like being put in boxes. I think most people would probably say that, but I’m a mixed race person, I’m a queer person, I’m a gender-queer person. So saying ‘I’m just this one thing’ is never how I’ve been since the day I was born.” To be queer is to live outside the box, and there is so much art and wonder to be found there if one only tries to look.