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Conversations with YaLLa The Melodica

Today we’d like to introduce you to YaLLa The Melodica.

Hi YaLLa, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up in Pasadena, CA. I first began performing my own music in church at 11 years old and went on to form girl group just 3.

It started with long hours of practicing with my Mom and siblings in our house of 15. I’m a foster kid and music was my escape from the reality of feeling unwanted or misunderstood.

My family knew that aside from my very quiet tone and coy personality, there was an even bigger voice inside of me.

I was immediately thrown into choir and began singing in school plays and even the Rose Bowl Parade. I grew up listening to artists like Janet Jackson, Lalah Hathaway, Kool & The Gang, Diana Ross, Jackson 5, Mary Mary, and Whitney Houston. When I noticed that my gift was more than my religion, I started writing songs about my struggle with my sexuality and being in Foster Care. So I convinced my grandmother to buy me a laptop and a guitar.

But first, I had to outgrow my pink see through CD player.

I recorded my very first song on this software called Audacity. My siblings encouraged me to start putting my music online and being diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder as a teen, I was very scared. I made my first Youtube account in high school and started editing my own music videos. I released my first EP on soundcloud and I came out to my family and friends. I received a little backlash from a few people in the church but so much support from people online. I even got noticed for my covers from artists I’m inspired by like Ari Lennox, Jazmine Sullivan, Janelle Monae, Iyla, and Normani.

As a queer black woman and now solo artist, I want to create a safe space for queer artists to express their love and creativity. To inspire everyone at all ages to live the life they desire.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I didn’t always know who I was as an artist. I would try to find ways to compare my image and my voice to other singers. It never works! I never gave myself credit for how extremely creative and talented I was. I had this fear of being rejected or like I wasn’t enough, especially being plus size. I was spending more time at these strenuous 9-5 jobs trying to figure out how I’m going to fund my dreams.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a Singer/Songwriter and multifaceted creative. When I’m not singing, editing videos, and graphic designing, I am doing someone’s hair. I love hair because it expresses the way I envision myself as a black girl. It helps me tell my story.

I am so proud of the women that come to me and reveal that they’ve been moved by my songs or by my videos. It’s so awesome to see people from other places enjoy your art.

I am so focused on being a wonderful and understanding human being in my everyday life that I try not to compare myself or my art to others. I’m very inspired by so many creatives, and there’s something very soft and tantalizing about my voice.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I would like to see an industry that supports more crossover talents and give queer artists the chance to tell their stories. More POC in categories other than R&B. I want to see Disco music reintroduced in pop culture. I want my music to touch the lives of younger kids and open them up to the conversations of self-love and self-discovery.

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