Five Female and Non-Binary Musicians on the Cusp of Stardom.

We’ve read the countless articles and seen the statistics naming and shaming the disparities in the representation of womxn, and particularly non-binary folks within the music industry. But, you ask, isn’t it high time we also started recognising some of those unique up-and-coming female and non-binary musicians killing it at the moment?

I hear you. So, here are five standout female and non-binary musicians on the cusp of stardom.

Priya Ragu

With four strong singles under her belt, Swiss-Sri Lankan singer Priya Ragu is already turning heads. Ragu’s distinct fusion style truly sets her apart from the crowd. The blend in her music of soul and R&B with her Sri Lankan heritage and Indian musical influence creates a sound not often heard in the Western charts. After releasing her debut single ‘Leaf High’ in November 2018, Ragu released two tracks in 2019, followed by her latest release ‘Good Love 2.0’ in January 2020.

This track is conceivably the most successful of Ragu’s discography to date, surpassing all but one of her releases in streams in a matter of months. Drawing heavily on her musical links to Sri Lanka and India, particularly in the bold breakdown and outro of the song, this track has led to a lot of label interest in Ragu, and rightly so.

With her debut album release having to be delayed due to covid-19, the suspense building around Priya Ragu only increases as her international audience awaits eagerly to see what fusion anthems she produces next.

CJ Run

CJ Run, aka Cancel-Joy Seymour, is an artist redefining gender boundaries within hip-hop. The 22-year-old rapper/singer frequently explores the idea of non-binaries within their music, particularly in their 2019 release ‘Dear Diary’. Fusing deep poetry with catching alt hip-hop rhythms, Seymour is a talent to look out for.

After leaving university in Illinois to pursue a music career full time, Northampton born Seymour is now based in Chicago. They tell Alyssa Klein of wehavestories.org that they are inspired to release music because they’re “able to give people a chance to hear themselves and feel at home in [their] music.”

‘Cruise Control’ is Seymour’s latest single, hitting all streaming sites just last month. Seymour’s profound, yet often simplistic, lyrics are paired with a smooth muted jazz instrumental. They’re the kind of artist you feel you know like a friend through your headphone speakers. As they say in their song ‘Psych’, CJ Run really is “your favourite rapper that you don’t know yet.”

Calÿpso

A writer of catchy queer love songs, the 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist, known as Calÿpso, is definitely on her way up in the music world. With a sound that’s growing with each release, Calÿpso’s music is seemingly best described as folk inspired indie pop, reminiscent of the early works of artists like Marika Hackman and Sharon Van Etten.

The Oxford based artist released a stand-alone single in 2017, followed by three more singles this year. Calÿpso’s latest release, titled ‘Mimi’, is a feather-light and up-beat tune. That is, if you don’t quite grasp the moody self-deprecating lyrics laced with soft harmonies throughout.

Calÿpso’s next release, ‘nothing’s fine’, is out on June 20th. If her current discography is anything to go by, things will just keep getting bigger and better for this up-and-coming artist.

Hope Tala

Hope Tala started uploading her demos to SoundCloud while she was at university in 2016. Inspired by the literature she studied in her undergrad degree, Tala names Shakespeare, Donna Tartt and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as some of her lyrical influences. The 21-year-old West Londoner even turned down an offer to do a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge to pursue her career in music.

Describing her music as a “synthesis between bossa nova and Latin influences, [mixed] with R&B and soul,” Tala sets no boundaries for herself as an artist. Much like Priya Ragu, she weaves and fuses her multitude of cultural influences to form a unique and exclusive sound. Not only does she experiment with genre, but also with music as an artform. The outro to her most recent EP, Sensitive Soul, is a simplistic recording of two young women discussing the idea of sensitivity over the guitar track from the EP’s lead single, ‘Lovestained’.

Released in the summer of 2019, ‘Lovestained’ is Tala’s most popular song right now. It blends soft bossa nova style guitar with Caribbean steel drums, cut through with feather-light vocals from Tala. Following several hints from Tala’s posts on social media, we can expect new music from this multi-talented musician sometime soon.

Hope Tala started uploading her demos to SoundCloud while she was at university in 2016. Inspired by the literature she studied in her undergrad degree, Tala names Shakespeare, Donna Tartt and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as some of her lyrical influences. The 21-year-old West Londoner even turned down an offer to do a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge to pursue her career in music.

Describing her music as a “synthesis between bossa nova and Latin influences, [mixed] with R&B and soul,” Tala sets no boundaries for herself as an artist. Much like Priya Ragu, she weaves and fuses her multitude of cultural influences to form a unique and exclusive sound. Not only does she experiment with genre, but also with music as an artform. The outro to her most recent EP, Sensitive Soul, is a simplistic recording of two young women discussing the idea of sensitivity over the guitar track from the EP’s lead single, ‘Lovestained’.

Released in the summer of 2019, ‘Lovestained’ is Tala’s most popular song right now. It blends soft bossa nova style guitar with Caribbean steel drums, cut through with feather-light vocals from Tala. Following several hints from Tala’s posts on social media, we can expect new music from this multi-talented musician sometime soon.

Grayson

A self-defined “social media darling,” as their Spotify biography reads, Grayson is at the top of their game and is seemingly only getting better. After the release of their debut single ‘Brother’ in 2018, the 21-year-old released a second single in 2019, followed by a 10-track EP titles Head to Head.

Grayson’s genre is unmistakably synth-pop, yet their voice is rich with folk tones similar to the likes of Florence Welch and Laura Marling. Songs like ‘Come Out on Top’ emphasise that ethereal voice, with delicately layered harmonies backed by a minimal electronic instrumental.

Having grown up in the Mormon Church, Grayson’s formative years now set them apart from the crowd, lyrically in particular. Once they moved to Seattle at the young age of 17, true musical and personal discovery began. Hopefully there is yet more to come from this darling soon.

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