She's sweeping the Nashville music scene

Newsletter editor Rachel here

I’m not sure we are ready for a post-pandemic review yet. I know I’m not. But I am wondering was there a specific book, person, or song that carried you through when it got to be too much? 

For me, one of those influences was Joy Oludokun.

The first time I heard her album in defense of my own happiness, I hadn't slept through the night in a loooong time. I hadn't seen my family or friends in even longer. And the winters in Ohio get pretty dark in more ways than one. Coming across her album was a spiritual experience. I listened to her songs on repeat for weeks. 

At a time when my socials were bogged down with complaints and worries over the pandemic and the news was an ongoing tally of cases and death reports, her music swept through my mind and brought hope. 

She was real without being pessimistic. Hopeful without minimizing the reality of suffering going on. 

Many of her songs have a comforting, warm-blanket quality, including “if you got a problem,” which is perfect if you need to cry it out. Others, such as “i see america” are tender yet chilling takes on racism, which is a recurring theme in her music, along with explorations of her sexual orientation and faith.

She doesn’t shy away from topics that make many people uncomfortable. But her approach invites people from all backgrounds to stop and listen. In an interview with CBS she said that she feels like music is one of the last remaining places where dialogue is possible because it creates a nonjudgemental space. 

As a Black, queer woman, she grew up in a religion that didn’t make that nonjudgemental space for her. Now in her songs, she carves out a space for herself and others like her to connect spiritually. She isn’t afraid to dive into deep and painful topics in her music. 

In one of my all-time favorite songs of hers, “sunday” she sings about the weight of hiding as a queer person. She says, 

“I’m just like the rest. Standing tall pretending not to be afraid.”

The music video is POWERFUL. I highly recommend taking a 4-minute break to view this, cry for a few moments, and then send it to all of your queer friends. 


I love how her passion and pain and joy is all so present in her lyrics. And a lot of times the emotions are all wrapped up together in the same experience. 

For example, she wrote her song “jordan,” with guitars and vocal melodies that roll like waves, while she was coming out. It's a blend of pain from her experiences and her belief that she can make a better future for herself.

In the song, she describes coming out saying,

“Now we are building our promised land. On this new ground we stand.”

Her music weaves together themes of light and struggle so perfectly. She shared in an interview with Vanity Fair, 

“Sometimes what people perceive to be darkness is actually where you find the voice of God and where you find the voice of truth,”

We’ve been through a few years of darkness. We all feel it. She is one of those rare artists who know how to be honest in her work in a way that brings us all along on a journey. 

And right now, she is having her moment. I hope you'll check her out and let me know if she speaks to you in the same way she speaks to me.