Queer Singer-Songwriter Denitia Talks About Diversity in Country Music and Why She Made the Switch from R&B

Inspired by her southern roots, Denitia begins to establish a newfound American utopia, uplifted by wistful vocals and the buoyant chimes of tambourine. Originally from the Houston area, Denitia currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. Soulful and passionate, Denitia sings with intentional restraint, seeking an outlet from isolation, a break from monotony, and a dream for the past reclaimed. As a teenager in a trailer in the woods, she spent her days studying the art of rock, alt-grunge, and self-revelation, melding it with her baseline in traditional roots music. Self-taught and unafraid, Denitia improvised her newfound language with the guitar and keyboard, and gained confidence performing at praise and worship services. Denitia’s past releases have received high praises from notable publications like the Village Voice, NPR and the New York Times. Most recently, her single “Highways” received high praises from Stereogum, LadyGunn and Wonderland Magazine. She has performed for popular platform COLORS and has placed her music on the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning feature “Nanny”, FX’s “Better Things”, Comedy Central’s Broad City and so much more. She has shared stages with SZA, The Internet, and Tank and the Bangas with prominent festival features at SXSW, Afropunk and the Firefly Music Festival. We sat down with Denitia to learn more about her roots and why she made the change from Pop/R&B to now, Folk/Country music.

1) Please tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your new single “White Lights”.
I was thinking about how I might sometimes look to another time or place in life to be happy. Some folks might be looking to the afterlife for relief. In the moment, I felt like I needed to look no other place for that feeling. Heaven is right here and home is where I want it to be.
2) What made you want to switch from Pop/R&B to now, making folk/country music?
It was very natural for me. I grew up on country music and it was the first kind of music I was really obsessed with. So it’s always been in my DNA. I’ve carried that with me through all the different types of music I’ve played and experimented with – songs come to me when I pick up a guitar. A couple of years ago, when the pandemic started and life as I knew it came to a halt – in that quiet, in that shift – I found myself gravitating towards my favorite country records and discovering new and old records. I had been talking about making an album like this for years, and being there in my apartment with just a guitar and a notebook, it felt like the most natural next step.
3) Do you anticipate facing any challenges as a queer, black woman in folk/country music? If so, why?
It’s definitely crossed my mind, but, at the moment, I’m choosing to focus on the folks who are already embracing me in this genre. And I believe this music is for everybody. It’s also amazing to see how many Black, Latino, and Queer artists have been making country music in this era, it’s a beautiful thing.
4) Are there any queer, black artists that you look up to?
For sure, there are so many black, queer artists that I really like, from the past and now. To name a few – Meshell Ndegeocello, Brittany Howard, Frank Ocean, Billie Holiday, Tracy Chapman, Joy Oladokun.
5) What can the industry do to help empower and uplift queer country artists?
Just open the door. We all have our stories to tell, and if a song is great, it’s great and people need to hear it.
6) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How about 10?
In 5 years, I’ll be making records and enjoying a peaceful beautiful life and continuing to discover music I love. In 10 years, I hope to be doing the same!
7) What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always keep writing.
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