Say It

This month we continue to Say It Louder with modern-day muses. These inspiring ladies value authenticity and representation. They find healing through music. Like us, they want you to be you, a mentality that they ardently embrace. Without further ado, meet the artists who are making a mark with their work.
I care about authenticity, originality, and aggressively being yourself… I hope to inspire people by being me.
You might recognize Awkwafina from “Ocean’s 8” or “Crazy Rich Asians,” in theaters this month, but she was a comedian and rapper before she debuted on the silver screen.

Her self-assured personality and off-the-cuff sense of humor were something that developed organically and over time. “I don't think I ever really realized that, like, oh, I'm a comedian. I think comedy and humor was an emotion that I developed, it was something that I never really had to learn, and I think that it came mostly out of a traumatic event, my mother's passing when I was four. Not to go too deep, but one of the first emotions I ever learned was embarrassment and I learned humor as a defense mechanism to fend off embarrassment. I would use humor to stop people from crying, you know. I would use it to entertain people.”

One of her biggest inspirations? Comedian Margaret Cho, who she saw when she was seven years old. “Seeing a woman being unashamed, hilarious, with a perfect command of the English language was something that I'd never seen before and without that I would not have known that this could be a possible career path for me.”

Although her Awkwafina persona has been called an alter ego—she was born Nora Lum—Awkwafina says “I care about authenticity, originality, and aggressively being yourself… I hope to inspire people by being me. I think that a lot of people think that being themselves is not enough and for me that's always kind of been my thought process. Until I embraced my flaws, and my quirks, and all that, is when I found success and inner happiness.”

If she could give advice to her younger self, it’d be that “it's gonna be okay, and that you may feel like you're super weird right now but later it'll pay off… whatever dreams or boundaries you set upon yourself, real life can be so much bigger than that.”
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It’s so powerful for little girls to see other strong, beautiful, empowered brown women in a public space.
R&B singer and songwriter Raveena Aurora has a voice as sweet as “Honey,” the name of her new single. If you haven’t watched (and listened!) to the music video yet, you’ll want to. It’s the kind of song you’d turn up for a chill night with friends.

When filming “Honey,” Raveena sought to represent a range of relationships. “We cast all couples of color and made sure to also have queer representation,” she said. “It was really important to me that they were real-life couples, 'cause I think there is an intimacy there that you can't force between models, and it was also really special getting to know all the stories behind the couples, how they met, and how they express love with each other.”

Raveena grew up listening to R&B and soul, but she was “also surrounded by Indian music and Indian food and all the colors of Bollywood.” And as an Indian American, Raveena didn’t see a lot of representation of people like her in mainstream media and music. “It's so powerful for little girls to see other strong, beautiful, empowered brown women in a public space.”

With her music, Raveena wants to make the world “a kinder and softer place.” She says, “We live in a really tumultuous time right now, politically, and I think it would be lovely if there was a focus on the lightness and just the togetherness of all beings... I write from a really meditative and calm kind of space, and I feel like growing myself and being in touch with my soul is such a big part of the music and that's kind of the energy that I send out in my music.”

If she could give one piece of advice to her younger self it’d be to “follow my intuition more and also to believe that I am this kind of goddess and a strong, beautiful woman.”
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Your self-worth is not contingent upon who you attract. Your self-worth is defined by whatever you want it to be.
Mary Lambert
Meet Mary Lambert, a singer, songwriter, poet, and activist, best known for her single, "Same Love.”

“I always felt like music was my true calling,” says Mary. “I started writing songs as soon as I could talk, really. I was raised in an abusive home and…if there was fighting or violence happening I would run to my room and I would immediately play on my little Casio keyboard...When I was nine I took the chords from a Brittany Spears song and I turned it into this lullaby about death and I sang it to my Girl Scout Troop and all the moms were crying and everybody was just kind of a wreck. I remember realizing that there was power in that and that there was power in being vulnerable and that it seemed to encourage a kind of emotional response to other people and how I wanted to use my powers for good.”

“I care deeply about vulnerability and encouraging empathy and so when I write I feel like it's a reflection process…to create healing within myself so that when I perform it's more of an invitation for other people to feel what they need to feel.”

And with that, Mary aims to empower others through her own self acceptance. “I hope to inspire people simply by existing...I almost feel like an anomaly because, not only was I accepted for being queer and fat and bipolar, I've been encouraged to talk openly about these things. So I guess my identity feels political already without even having to say anything about it.”

Mary herself is inspired by “queer youth and trans activists and people standing up for what they believe in.” If she could give advice to queer youth like her younger self, it’d be “your self-worth is not contingent upon who you attract. Your self-worth is defined by whatever you want it to be. And everybody's scared, everybody's insecure, everybody doesn't like a part of themselves so it is your responsibility to love yourself. And maybe your trauma is circumstantial and something that happened to you but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself. It is your responsibility to grow and to heal.”
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