Being part of the AAPI community, musicians are often left out of the conversation. To be a woman of the AAPI community, the underrepresentation is even greater. Artists like Hailee Steinfield, H.E.R., Nicole Scherzinger, Saweetie, and Olivia Rodrigo have found their share of success in the industry, but many don’t associate them with their heritage.
Here are 11 incredible AAPI women in music with amazing stories to share:
An Asian-American. A Muslim. A woman. Yuna had to overcome many struggles to make her voice heard. Now being in the industry for nearly 20 years, she has worked with other great artists, like Usher, and has won the equivalent of 11 Malaysian Grammy awards. Her songs of love, life, and identity continue to entertain pop and R&B enthusiasts.
Yaeji listeners are encompassed with a unique blend of house, trap and hip-hop sounds. It should be unsurprising that a DJ would know how to fuse different genres. Now a rapper, Yaeji entertains her fans with her diary-like lyrics (in both Korean and English) and impulsively-created music videos.
Raveena Aurora’s airy, honey-like voice has entranced many. Her music is a blend of popular Western genres like R&B, soul, and jazz with traditional Indian beats. Her self-directed aesthetic videos boast her South Asian heritage and represent the marginalized queer and POC community. Most of her songs focus on themes of self-love, healing, and spirituality.
With an Indonesian pop diva for a mother, Stephanie is no stranger to the ways of the music industry. But this rising star made a name for herself with the 2019 hit, “I Love You 3000”. Singing in Indonesian Bahasa and English, she hopes her warm melodies would be a fitting background music to real-life experiences.
It all started by making song covers on YouTube. Soon after, Mree began to deliver beautiful music videos to accompany her self-produced songs. This multi-instrumentalist produces dream-like songs with acoustic and electronic components to match her cryptic lyrics. The lyrics are such that it is open to any form of interpretation.
For the shy, sensitive and the homebody, mxmtoom brings a musical solace with her lo-fi bedroom pops. Through her lyricism, she connects with her listeners about the trials of high school, the thoughts of a wallflower, and the struggles of a Chinese-American.
At a glance, one would never guess Audrey Nuna to be a rapper; which is exactly one of the reasons why she pursues music. The desire to inspire many others despite race and gender drives this young artist to create incredible blends of trap, rap and pop.
Rapper Ruby Ibarra strongly advocates for the Filipino community through her music. Her sharp, profound lyrics rapped in Tagalog, Warray (a native dialect), and English address the topics of patriarchy, colorism, and immigrant struggles.
Through the elements of rock and grunge, Mitski’s music brings a sense of melancholy. Struggling with her cross-cultural identity and the façade to be strong, she writes her heart out in her songs in the most poetic manner.
The ocean blue and the swaying trees. The slow-paced life formed from the rich history. The island life and experiences are what Anuhea hopes to achieve with her songs. Be it reggae, pop or folk tunes, the music will take you deep into the islands.
Though usually categorized as synth-pop, indie, and R&B, TRACE likes to refer to her music as mope-pop. The deep, reflective lyrics allowed the singer to connect with her listeners and help them to embrace their moody emotions.
Though their mainstream visibility is low, their presence will definitely be felt if given a chance.
What AAPI women in music are you listening to right now?
Header: Yuna (Universal Music Group)