2015 was a huge year for R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani.
In addition to selling out tour dates and releasing her highly acclaimed mixtape You Should Be Here, the 20-year-old is on the cusp of a huge mainstream breakthrough after having garnered the attention of the music press and other, more established artists with her own special brand of brooding, moody lyrics paired with soulful vocals and pop sensibilites. But now, after being nominated for a Grammy (without even having to release a full-length debut studio album, mind you), she's ready to make 2016 the year she becomes a household name.
But what makes Kehlani one of the most exciting, up-and-coming artists to follow in recent years? Here are some things you should know:
She's openly bisexual.
Unlike other celebrities who still hide behind a facade or dodge questions about whether or not they are LGBT, Kehlani embraces her bisexuality, and has written and sung songs using both male and female pronouns.
While her name may be Hawaiian in origin, Kehlani is a young woman of mixed race (a diverse mix of Black, White, Native American, Spanish, and Filipino), who is a welcome face for other young, multicracial people who don't often get to see themselves in music or popular culture.
She's an Oakland native.
Although she's openly admitted that she had some tough times growing up in her neighborhood, Kehlani hails from same Bay Area city that bred other talented urban musicians like Digital Underground, Mac Dre, G-Eazy (one of her friends and collaborators), and Tony! Toni! Toné! just to name a few. And she's proud of where she's from.
She has a special connection to her fans that too many other musicians often ignore.
“The girl that needs me is the outspoken, awkward tomboy,” Kehlani said about who she writes for and her relatability to others in her cover story with The Fader last year. “She looks hard, but she’s very soft. She’s misinterpreted, coming into herself, openly growing.”
She's the definiton of pure talent.
Listen to her mixtapes and search any live performance of hers, and you'll soon realize why the singer-songwriter (who proudly writes all of her songs) is on the come-up.
Long story short, 2016 (and probably many years after that) will definitely belong to Kehlani — and we can't wait to see what other stuff she has in store for us.
What other new music and new artists are you looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!