With a new year comes resolutions, goals and that much dreaded ‘new year, new me’ mantra that let’s face it – is very much TBC – so early on in the year. 2019 was the year Ariana Grande gracefully told her ex’s thank u, next, Lizzo made us feel good as hell and Dua Lipa embraced moving on from heartache with don’t start now.
The positive vibes are continuing to roll in and we’re curating our Instagram feeds more closely, embracing our beauty, enhancing it in some cases, and the perfect musical accompaniment to this all? The soothing, sultry smooth stylings of New York-based RnB singer-songwriter Raveena Aurora – or more often referred to as Raveena.
Her music utilises those recognisable, dream-like vocals to ultimately aid a larger purpose. “I want to make music to heal – that’s emotional and embraces the softest parts of people’s beings.” the singer said in an interview with Gal-Dem magazine last year. Soulful, mid-tempo healing – you know, the kind that complements your self-care Sunday routine and midweek pamper session.
“Westernised, or rather, mainstream music rarely sees the attraction and image of the Indian body, what with artists like M.I.A. being the primary and only example.”
The singer’s first EP, Shanti, literally means peace in Hindi and the music that follows is exactly that. From track to track, we are exposed to the highs and lows of love all set to dreamy synths and smooth baselines. The stand out track, If Only was even showcased on the esteemed music video platform and series, Colours, joining the ranks of rising British talents Mahalia, Loyle Carner and Sinead Harnett.
The subsequent singles that followed are nothing short of cultural shifters. Listening to it, the relaxed Raveena sound reigns through, but it’s the music video that carries subversive power. Westernised, or rather, mainstream music rarely sees the attraction and image of the Indian body, what with artists like M.I.A. being the primary and only example.
One of Raveena’s first singles after her EP was released, Honey, brings sensuality to reality in a dream-like sequence with people of colour. As you’d expect, it involves a lot of honey, but also a lot more inclusion than we’re used to seeing. Men making the most of the dewy look with eyeshadow and Raveena herself wearing a nath (a larger nose ring typically worn by Indian women on their wedding day). She uses the ideas of older traditions and updates them to feel more closely aligned with westernised ideals of attraction, love and sensuality.
The single following, Temptation, opens up more about the singer’s sexuality and attraction for women. “I’m pretty sure I liked girls before I like boys, but it took me this year in my 20s partly through writing ‘temptation’ to be able to really verbalise and know in my heart that this was one of my truths.” says the American singer in an earlier Instagram post. A sort of public coming out, Temptation’s visuals track the feeling of falling in love and embracing brown, queer love in a way that hasn’t yet penetrated into mainstream media more frequently.
Coming from a place of Indian heritage, a community that’s less tolerant of those who consider themselves LGBTQ+, Raveena’s acceptance and projection of her own personal thoughts towards bisexuality set a precedent and relatable image for those growing up in similar circumstances. As a result brown, queer love is normalised.
Lucid, the singer’s debut album released last year is an amalgamation of the embracement of her body, her womanhood, and her Indian heritage, but fear not, she doesn’t fall short of the dreamy, zen-like style she’s known for. The second track, Nectar, matter of factly discusses the stretch marks on her thighs as well as the power of her female sexuality.
“A sort of public coming out, Temptation’s visuals track the feeling of falling in love and embracing brown, queer love in a way that hasn’t yet penetrated into mainstream media more frequently.”
One of the lead singles off of the album, Mama is dedicated to her mother and immigrant mothers more generally. Emigrating from India, her mother’s experience as a first-generation immigrant in Queens, New York City is shown in the music video through the lens of personal video footage of her marriage and current footage in and around the city with Raveena and her mother. A mutual feeling shared by all of those who are second and third-generation immigrants, the past and history is an integral part of this song.
At the core of Raveena’s projects lies happiness. Track 11, ‘Nani’s Interlude’ sees Raveena’s Nani, translated into English as maternal grandmother about the universal topics of aging, the unpredictability of life and loving life. Although it’s one of the shortest tracks on the album, it’s perhaps one of the most impactful.
In more recent times, Raveena has appeared on another prestigious music platform, NPR’s Tiny Desk series. Eighties era clothing, pastel aesthetics, and dreamy videos and vocals are all part of the Raveena appeal and it’s safe to say it’s working.
When you’re in need of a breather from life or just a breath along the way, Raveena’s smooth, groovy and soulful vibes are the go-to.
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