The Chicago Defender’s Black Music Month Special Edition
Ravyn Lenae | @ravynlanae
When The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) opened its doors in 2009, there was no warning that one their students would become a major recording artist before they graduated.
Ravyn Lenae climbed her way into some of the most coveted musical arenas. Securing a record deal with Atlantic Records, she released her debut full-length album, Midnight Moonlight, featured on Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘10 New Artists You Need To Know: March 2017’. Not typical of a high school senior, but Lenae hopes the world is ready because she is just getting started.
Hailing from South side of Chicago, Lenae has been musically motivated since an early age. Beginning with guitar, piano and voice lessons guided by her grandmother, she says she was exposed to music throughout her childhood.
“I think it was the actions of one of my vocal teachers—Mr. Powell—who had me compose a song for the very first time on the piano. That was the moment where I realized I wanted this for a career,” Lenae reveals. Having a music career is only a fraction of what her hard work has granted her. Her rapid rise to success has charged her to challenge herself vocally and lyrically, always remaining conscious of those who have helped her along the way, creating a network of support that has held her up throughout this process.
“All of my support came from my peers at school and my two best friends Jacob and Leigha, who were at all of my first shows. When no one would come to my shows, they were in the crowd,” she said.
From empty venues to sold out tours, Lenae has become a fan favorite across the globe with her juxtaposed and authentic sound. Deliberately using beats that are intricate and “busy” in cohesion with her soft and melodic voice tone, Lenae strives to take listeners into a state of dreaming with her music. Her main producer, Monte Booker, who has generated monumental attention for his talent across countless online platforms, and is responsible for producing her critically acclaimed project Moon Shoes, Lenae’s first album on Atlantic Records, can also pose artistic and at times—scary challenges. The ChiArts senior, says she it happens when creating something new. “The beats are challenging because it’s hard to find that pocket where I fit, if that makes sense. But Monte gets me 100 percent so when we create it’s really fast and easy,” she explains.
The challenge has only begun for Lenae, as she moves forward with the production of her second album, still in its early stages.
Lenae admits she’s always down to try new things with her music. “I’m still exploring myself and figuring out who I am as a woman, and it’s the same process for me musically so that’s cool; to be able to explore myself, my voice and my music at the same time.”
Set to go on tour next year, her goal is to capture who she is through her music and communicate a message for all of her listeners, making clear that the joy she finds in making music is deeply rooted in a personal connection with her audience and fanbase overall. Smiling, “The more I do that, the more I am fulfilled.”