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ENCORE: Neo-Soul Artist Cyanca On Finding Her Way: ‘Your Pain is Equal to Your Breakthrough’

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Photo courtesy of the artist.
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Cyanca is a rising star in Charlotte's neo-soul/R&B music scene.

Self-taught on the drums at the age of 6. Raised on a mix of A Tribe Called Quest, Chuck Berry, and Lauryn Hill. Taking meetings with Jay-Z's record label Roc Nation before her debut release even dropped in 2017. Just like her music, the stories of up-and-coming R&B star Cyanca are anything but ordinary.

"It was just fulfilling, and no other music could compare. There was just something about neo-soul that really filled my soul up."
– Cyanca, neo-soul artist

Interview Highlights:

On her family roots in music:

I was raised by my grandparents. My grandmother was pretty heavy into the church, so we went to the Baptist church a lot. I was always surrounded by gospel music.

And then my father was into hip-hop, R&B, soul and jazz. He was born in the ‘70s, so he went through a great era of music with people like Sade, Tribe Called Quest, NWA and Big Daddy Kane. So having that mixture of different types of genres definitely influenced me and drew my curiosity.

On falling in love with neo-soul music:

I think it was organic, when you think about the age frame that I was at when neo-soul was at its height of the music game. My father played it a lot: he played a lot of neo-soul, he played a lot of Erykah Badu. Everybody loves Erykah Badu. If you don’t rock with Erykah Badu, you’re crazy!

And definitely “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was something that made me really, really start falling in love with that sound. It was just fulfilling, and no other music could compare. There was just something about neo-soul that really filled my soul up.

On what spurred her to become an independent musician:

I went through a depression. I went through a series of traumatic experiences in my life that made me wake up one day and start writing. I started getting into producing more. I felt like I had a testimony.

On the Charlotte music scene:

Even though I feel like there’s love, I feel like there’s a grey area in the Charlotte music scene. I can’t pinpoint it myself. And North Carolina as a whole. I always felt like, deep down, we should be in the same conversations as the music scenes of L.A. and New York and Nashville and Georgia.

I still feel like we’re trying to find out how to brand ourselves and execute it effectively. But of course, we need more opportunities and more development, especially when artists complain that they don’t have the avenues for their craft. I think that would be more helpful to have more resources and programs for educating up-and-coming artists.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

Cyanca - "Home"
Cyanca - “Recipe”
Cyanca - “Badu” feat. Jaguar Summer
Cyanca - “New Phone, Who Dis?”
Cyanca - “Rosa”
Cyanca - “Eat”
Cyanca - “Future Mystery” feat. Jaguar Summer

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Chat with Joni Deutsch and tag WFAE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte home as WFAE's manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, where she's led the first Charlotte Podcast Festival (named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout) and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. In addition to being an NPR Music contributor, Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, named “Best Podcast” by Charlotte Magazine and honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times).