Born in Queens, New York, Hadaiyah Bey, more fondly known as Yaya Bey, has a gift of storytelling through her music. The artist and singer-songwriter has captured the hearts of many with her raw songs of life and heartbreak through her acclaimed EP, The Things I Can’t Take With Me, chronicling her experience in processing a particularly bad breakup.
As part of the album, Bey’s latest single is titled “made this on the spot,” where she teams up with violinist V.C.R. An emotionally wrought song, Bey pours her heart out with the truth of her relationship, displaying her prowess as storyteller, through joy as much as in grief.
The 32-year-old’s breakthrough in music has helped make her one of the most exciting acts in music right now. If “made this on the spot” is anything to go by, 2022 is going to be a fascinating journey for Yaya Bey. We had the opportunity to learn a thing or two from the enigmatic singer-songwriter.
Sum up your 2021 with one song.
“Happy Feelings” by Maze.
How did you get into music?
My dad is also a musician (Grand Daddy I.U.) so growing up, my house was always filled with music. I think music was the only logical choice. It’s what feels the most natural at this point.
Who are some of your musical heroes growing up, and have they changed over the years?
My dad used to play Donny Hathaway for me in middle school. That changed the way I looked at music because Donny’s music was the first time I realised music could be a testimonial. For that reason, he’s a forever hero.
You mentioned in an interview that your latest EP, The Things I Can’t Take With Me, is about healing. How was it like now that it’s out in the world, and have you been able to find peace from it?
Honestly, after the music is released, I move on from it. I try to stay present with whatever I’m currently working on and let it go when I’m done.
We love your new single, “made this on the spot.” Is this a preview of what’s to come, and what can we expect from you next?
Without saying too much, I have a lot more music on the way.
What are your hopes for people who listen to your music?
I honestly just want the music to find its way to people with who it will resonate with. If it doesn’t resonate with you, it’s not for you, but if it does, welcome!
You have had quite a journey before properly releasing your music. What have you learned from that experience?
Keep going. No matter how hard it is to see the other side, just keep going. This has really paid off for me lately.
If you could name one song that best describes you, what would it be and why?
I don’t think that I have a song that describes me best right now, but I’m really into the Gap Band’s “I’m In Love” at the moment because it feels really good.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
Trust the timing of your life. Nothing meant for you will pass you by.
Besides writing music, how do you achieve breakthroughs and stay grounded?
I pray, I take time to care for myself, and I prioritise love.
What are your hopes for 2022?
I’m going to make a living from music. I’m going to spend time with my friends and family, and I’m going to travel.
Tell us a bit more about how you curated this list.
These are all the songs I heard on Sundays cleaning the house. I play these songs and dance around my house. It’s a feel-good playlist.
Cover Credit: Andres Norwood