Music has been described as the universal language that binds us all, and behind that art & other creative forms of expression, stands an eclectic group of individuals who yearn for their work to be recognized and valued. There are many artists in the world but only few find major success, and of those few, only a handful are able to gain prominence in the mainstream world so that their work may be appreciated and shared on a larger scale. That handful, more often than not, severely lacks diversity not just in color but also in orientation.
Although we’ve made progress and have seen the rise of major power players such Jussie Smollett, Frank Ocean, and Todrick Hall, there’s a lot to be said for the sparse inclusion of black and brown LGBT talent in the world of music and fine arts. Especially seeing as though LGBT people of color have such a significant and unique perspective to be relayed creatively, given their respective communities. So as we continue our efforts to celebrate and cultivate a culture of diversity, we have decided to shed a light on twelve LGBT artists ranging from various creative fields and spread awareness of their greatness as well their thoughts on issues facing their community.
She helped us ALL get in formation alongside Queen Bey and has been making us dance and twerk profusely for years with her special New Orleans brand of Hip Hop, rightfully earning her the title ‘Queen of Bounce.’ Since her musical debut in 2003, she has released 4 solo studio albums, been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, nominated for countless awards and even nabbed her own TV show on the Fuse channel…in short, she slays!
This dangerous duo broke out in a major way when their viral video freestyle to Gucci Mane’s “Freaky Girl” hit the web back in 2010. Seven years later they have continued to dominate the underground rap scene and crank out endless hits and epic music videos! (Check out our FULL interview with these two HERE)
At the tender age of 19, Jonathan moved to NYC to pursue his dreams in theatre. His love for singing and entertaining only amplified once he officially embarked on his music career as a recording artist. Since then, this industry pro has not only toured all over the nation but has also taken his talents overseas to touch audiences everywhere with his fierce falsetto and loving lyrics.
Avant Garde is personified in Brandon Roberts also known as Bootz Durango. This multi-faceted entertainer first gained recognition with his viral YouTube clips tributing artists like Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Missy Elliott and more! Since breaking on to the scene years ago, this North Carolina native has made the big move to West Coast and now splits his time between LA and NC. Because of his music and infectious personality, Bootz has received several television opportunities with Bravo and other networks where he’s able display his talents in dancing, on-air hosting, and of course singing/rapping.
This young ingenue is a breath of fresh air to the music scene. With a rising social media following of over 40K followers and a poignant lyrical perspective, Dric Leon is sure to make a name for himself. After rapping since he was 16 years old, Dric has begun to take web by storm with his online freestyles which have scored him multiple live performances across the nation.
[WATCH] Check out our in depth chat with these amazing musicians about their careers and the issues that face people of color the LGBT community after the jump:
This Puerto Rican prince is not just public speaker and advocate but he is also a phenomenal poet and performer. After years of performing his pieces live and in short online clips, Jai has released his debut studio single titled, ‘His Innocent Voice’ (HIV), which features his poetry and a short film of the same name. Since its release, HIV has been recognized by the Official Latino Short Film Festival and the 2017 Hope Film Awards as Jai continues to work on his first album.
Tai Kage is an artist hailing from Maryland who has garnered the attention of the LGBT community with his amazing portrait drawings. His artistic abilities have earned him over 13K on social media and have parlayed him into other forms of entertainment including music and acting. Kage has even nabbed roles on the hit YouTube series ‘Boy Drama’ and ‘Willology’
Chuck is a tattoo artist from Texas who is taking the industry by storm with his wildly creative designs and unparalleled precision and attention to detail. Despite starting off as an amateur providing ink jobs at a discount from his home, Jones has elevated to a well known tattoo parlor in Galveston where he is personally requested by those who admire his work, which he shares online.
[WATCH] Check out our chat with these three artists after the jump:
A painter residing in Los Angeles,Keljen’s art spans a wide range from pieces that explicitly embrace and celebrate women of color and their beautifully distinctive female figure to paintings of scenic wildlife and well known characters that strike a seemingly perfect balance between playful yet meticulously skilled.
Since gaining major recognition back in the hay day of Myspace, Bryn’t has continued to set the music industry ablaze with hits as tours from city to city. With his expertly crafted melodies and gritty no-holds barred lyrical prowess this rapper/singer has surely paved the way for many LGBT artists to come.
Duane Cramer is an internationally known photographer whose work has grace many high profiled publications like Vibe Magazine, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar and MORE! Since breaking into the scene in 1996, Cramer has continued to create iconic visuals and even expand his brand by starting his own advertising/business consulting firm aptly titled, Duane Cramer Creative. In addition to brightening up the world with his art, Duane also enlightens communities everywhere with his activism for HIV awareness.
Jay Will/ Kandie
You’ve probably seen this one of a kind character grace your social media feed with her savage bars, sickening looks, and outrageous personality but behind this banjee beauty is a lyrical and self proclaimed “creative genius” Jay Will. Yes, Jay Will is rapper/ drag entertainer who often goes by the name of Kandie while in drag. Kandie’s videos on YouTube and social media have garnered upwards of 800K views and day by day those numbers continue to rise. With his viral success and undeniable talent both Jay Will and Kandie are sure to take over the music industry.