You may have heard Akenya Seymour on Chance the Rapper’s #10Day or at one of her jazz showcases around the city. A graduate of the Chicago Academy of the Arts who went on to study jazz voice at Boston’s New England Conservatory, 23-year-old multi-genre artist Akenya Seymour is a force to be reckoned with.
Akenya’s most recent single, “Disappear,” is a departure from her more traditional projects in jazz and hip-hop. Her haunting vocals and psychedelic production venture into new sonic territory: “Disappear” doesn’t shy away from sparseness or dissonance, not to mention its unstoppable groove. A seasoned arranger and composer, Akenya produced the track herself.
Lyrically, Akenya paints two varying portraits of herself in “Disappear.” “Some people hold me in really high regard, and think my music is really out there,” she said. “Other people only ever see me as a frazzled hot mess who can never be on time!” The refrain of the song, “What did you hear about me? Did it revere or doubt me?” digs into the stress and uncertainty of Akenya’s life as a performer. “Will people see my potential? Will they see me how I see myself? How does their perception of me affect my perception of myself?”
The music video for “Disappear,” set for release in late February, is directed by Todd Burr, another Academy for the Arts alum who’s worked with Chicago artists like Towkio. The Indiegogo for the video surpassed its original goal, and any additional donations will go toward a video release event and Akenya’s next single.
“Disappear” is a first look into the aesthetic of Akenya’s upcoming full-length album, provisionally titled “Moon in the 4th.” As a sought-after jazz vocalist, she has collaborated with many other producers, live bands and vocalists. But for her debut album as a solo artist, Akenya said, the album will be all hers: from arrangement to vocals to production. As in “Disappear,” the songs on the album will delve into Akenya’s thoughts about her history, her life and the people in it.
Catch Akenya live and follow her on Facebook.
Akenya is a 23-year-old multigenre singer, pianist, composer and arranger born and raised in Chicago. Her music places a strong emphasis on jazz and the culmination of hip-hop, funk, pop, classical, world music, and other loves of hers.
On this track:
Akenya: Voice, Lyrics, Production
Engineering, Mixing, and Mastering by Teddy Jackson
This article was contributed by ChicagoMusic.org, a nonprofit, neutral support network for musicians, labels, artist managers, music-based startups, and anyone else pursuing a career in music in Chicago.
"Singletrack" is CAR's Artist Story for Chicago performers in which songwriters, bands, playwrights, actors and writers discuss the creation of a recorded work alongside audio or video clips of the performance. To submit your song for consideration, please email our researchers.
Photo by Des.