Which prophet do you need? How about this Witch Prophet? It’s a fitting moniker for queer, Ethiopian/Eritrean singer-songwriter and co-CEO of Heart Lake Records, Ayo Leilani, whose vocals have appeared on Shad, Fucked Up and DillanPonders recordings. Her sophomore release, DNA Activation, expands on her 2018 solo debut The Golden Octave. Sung in English, Amharic and Tigrinya, her signature sound blends jazz, operatic soul (her term), alt-R&B, hip-hop and modern Afrobeat rhythms with a mesmerizing urbane bent. It’s best experienced as one lengthy, intertwined sonic journey with a soundscape of vocal layers, loops, raps and harmonies plus a lyrical wisdom that conjures stories, named after family members, that draw inspiration from her heritage plus mythology and biblical tales. The beauty and experimental qualities of Witch Prophet’s sound span African-diaspora expressions, with lyrics that address pride, self-love and rejection of oppression, despair, determination and community plus love and devotion.
Biography by Kerry Clarke