Supported by the #YouTube Black Voices Fund, the #YouTubeBlack Voices Music Class of 2022 is a development programme designed to directly support and mentor Black artists, songwriters and producers worldwide. The addition of songwriters and producers to the 2022 class demonstrates the continuation and expansion of Youtube’s efforts to support Black artists on the platform.
With the aim of equipping up-and-coming Black artists, songwriters & producers with the resources to succeed on YouTube, the class will be grouped into two programme streams: one for artists and one for songwriters and producers. Class participants will each receive dedicated partner support, seed funding to invest in the development of their channels, and opportunities to participate in training and networking programs focused on production, fan engagement and wellbeing. Over the next 6 months, they will also get opportunities to develop their catalogues and collaborate with other global artists, songwriters, and producers who have also been selected to take part in the programme.
The roaster is made up of 54 artists, songwriters and producers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, USA, UK and eight African artists based in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.
Omah Lay- Nigerian Artist
Nigeria’s Omah Lay whose music is heavily influenced by his background, strong culture and environment, has an undeniable connection to his audience and high hopes for his journey with YouTube Black Voices: “My music speaks to the people that love me, the people I love and the people that have been through what I have been through. I see the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund having an impact on my career in different ways. It would allow me provide content about my musical journey to my fans, and in marketing them to a greater audience,” he says.
CKay – Nigerian Singer-songwriter
Singer-songwriter CKay, whose earliest contact with music was through his father, a church choir conductor, decided to start writing his own music on the piano and guitar. He says “that knowledge of instruments coupled with digital production is an integral part of my music-making process. My traditional South-Eastern origin explains my use of Igbo language in my music and my extensive knowledge of High-Life music.”
Azawi – Ugandan Singer-songwriter based in Kenya
Kenya-based artist Azawi, whose music is a fusion of African rhythms and sounds heavily influenced by her life experience and traditional music, has high hopes for where her journey with YouTube Black Voices will take her: “ I have a passion for writing songs and a desire to say something through my craft. I see the #YouTubeBlackVoices Fund sharing my work and brand with a bigger audience and platform, which means more exposure and opportunities for my career, ” she says.
Elaine – South African Artist
R&B singer Elaine, whose music is a warm, honest, and pure representation of the hopeless romantic she is, became an artist because of her love for iconic black women such as Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Lebo Mathosa and Brenda Fassie. “My dad also played a huge role in my love and admiration for music. I’m constantly inspired by my experiences and my deep love for turning my feelings into art. The fund will give me – a Black South African girl – the platform to be heard, seen and celebrated on a global stage,” she adds.
Major League DJz
South African DJ duo Major League DJz, who started as event promoters, say that they are inspired by the people of Africa and they hope that this YouTube Black Voices journey will help ease the pandemic’s burden on artists like them: “As artists, we were the hardest hit by the pandemic. The funding will help us ensure we continue the trajectory to take Amapiano to the world. We will continue to travel and immerse everyone and anyone who crosses our path in this beautiful African sound,” they say.
DJ Lag, who joins the class as a songwriter/producer, describes his music as an extension of his personality. “Everything that I am has been influenced by the need to express myself through music and my ambition to create almost a language to communicate my identity. I would describe my sound as an African take on techno and a fusion of various genres with a taste of South African township life,” he says.
Producer P.Priime, who is from a musically inclined family fell in love with music when he was a little boy singing in the church choir, has made different types of songs for various artists expressing a combination of ideas and emotions. “I would say as long as you can relate to my sound, then that’s it. I have so many ideas I’d love to bring to life and I know with the right resources and funding, I’d be able to achieve that,” he adds.
Producer of Burna Boy’s hit song ‘Wonderful’ Telz describes his music as if it were human because “it has character and speaks for itself” and says he sees the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund impacting his career in various ways — especially in bringing his ideas to life and helping him network with other creatives globally.