Yola

This feature is a part of our Black History Month series highlighting artists redefining roots music.

Check out the other artists in this series here.

It’s no secret that we at WYEP love Yola. She’s featured numerous times on our list of best songs of 2021 and was our Artist of the Year for 2019. And as a British woman of color, she’s breaking down barriers creating catchy American roots music.

“Oh, hell yeah, because racism is real,” she told the LA Times. “They don’t expect me to do what I’m doing. I’m not playing to any kind of trope, which can be confusing to people who don’t have any black friends.”

In June, Yola chatted with Rosemary Welsch about her record Stand For Yourself.

“There’s something very specific about being a dark-skinned, Black woman where you are in a space and you’re like, ‘Oh I think I’m this person,’ and then people go ‘Oh, I see this,’ because we don’t have much representation of your type of person,” she said. “And so it becomes, am I able to be this broad? Or am I able to do this? And kind of, that guided … to bring out the songs in this next record. I was like I think I can. I think it’s OK. And even if it isn’t, I’m just going to do it anyway, because honestly, I don’t think I can hold it in anymore.”

Watch her interview with Rosemary Welsch here:

And check her NPR Tiny Desk concert here: