Citi is a long-standing supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and building an inclusive culture for communities across the globe. As the world recovers from the long-term effects of COVID-19, it’s especially vital to champion diverse voices in all communities, and help enable their growth and progress.
We know that being seen and heard is the beginning of everything. That’s why Citi supported the LGBTQ+ Emerging Artist Award, which launched in June 2021 in honor of self-expression, and the thousands of customers who have updated their chosen first name on their eligible Citi-branded consumer credit and debit cards to watch who they are. The Award provided 15 outstanding emerging LGBTQ+ music artists with $10,000 each to help support their creative journeys.
“I want people to feel less alone than they did before listening to my music. I love infusing my sense of humor, my burning desire to share the most authentic version of myself, and my lack of shame around mental health, queerness, and body neutrality, into every single performance. I love channeling my inner camp counselor, playing for a group of stargazers, and providing the soundtrack for a memorable, poignant, honest moment. I refuse to hold back from the stigmatized, quiet the parts of me I’ve been told are ‘too much,’ or make something more palatable for audiences not on board with my queerness. I want to be a role model to any queer person out there, scared that their full self will not be accepted. My music says not only will we accept you, but we will love you, and we will groove out while we do it.”
“The message that I want to share is ‘be you’. As corny as that sounds I feel like the world worries too much about what others think/believe. I myself often struggle with that myself being a mixed gay man. I always feel like I have to find myself constantly but who I am now in this moment is enough.
What inspires me is being unapologetic. I love people who do what they want (within reason) and don’t care.”
“My album, ‘Pain With Benefits,’ came about after one of my lowest points in life. I had just been dumped, the country officially went into lockdown, and my mental health was plummeting. I found myself wanting to put all of these feelings of everything and nothingness into something solid. That is where the record was born. I was able to connect the theme of pain and success in my life and I realized that with each pain came a benefit. Unfortunately, a lot of suffering seems to precede light/goodness. In coming to terms with this, I realized that perhaps this was a necessary balance in life. This album encompasses tracks that sonically and lyrically touch on mental health, grieving, self-awareness, and ultimately self-love.”
“I like to weave in my experiences and the experiences and stories of those in the world around me, into the fabric of my music; creating a sense of authenticity and making it OK for my audiences to embrace their raw emotions. Listening to my music, one might say that I’m inspired by love or heartache. But I’d say that I’m inspired by the everyday human experience. My music isn’t complicated, and I purposefully write that way. I’ve written music inspired by the feeling you get when your ex-partner has moved on to a new relationship, and you haven’t. I’ve written songs about the euphoric feeling of falling in love at first sight, if only for the night. These are human experiences. These are raw emotions. Complex stories, perhaps; but these stories simply boil down to emotions and the human experience. And, I always want my audience to share in the storytelling journey that I go on. I want people to fall in love with the feeling they get when they listen to my songs.”
“My artistic vision is to create a sonic and visual space that is accessible and empowering to humans, especially humans who are women, LGBTQIA+, Asian, and/or children of immigrants. I make music for people who are healing, who are carving their path, and who are learning who they are.
In more concrete terms, I want to release an album of songs that I feel proud of (well-produced, thoughtfully created). I want to create music that resonates. I want to create music that makes at least one person feel less alone in their experience. I want to create music that celebrates our uniqueness, music that represents unity.”
“Since I can remember I’ve been able to express myself through music. My mother shares the story of me playing the tambourine at age 3 in Lima Peru, during a family gathering next to my aunt who was playing the guitar. I was perfectly keeping the beat! I don’t remember being in a world without music. What moves me every day is this very intrinsic connection, this gift I was given and which helped me survive through years of emotional trauma, loss, and disconnection. Music has always made sense to do, and to be in. But it wasn’t until I was able to come out as non binary/trans masculine five years ago, when my true and real artistry started to exist. Being able to be the real me writing, creating, and performing music has been my healing and my mission!
On stage, my music is a reflection of how my two cultures merge, they become one, they are true collaborators, highlighting each other without clashing, bridging the gap between differences, and connecting the audience with pure emotion. I am grateful for being visible and actively advocating as a Latinx artist during shows and/or interviews, sharing that moment of growth with the listener, being who I am, exposing my voice, and my queer look as an opportunity for them to receive without judging. Becoming a producer in the last 2 years, during COVID, has given me the opportunity to take this even further, and be able to share it with the world.”
“Everyone goes through some sort of alternative experience(s) throughout their lifetime, but people very rarely talk about them. The less we talk, the more isolated we become. We start to feel like we’re the only ones who have ever felt this way. Obviously, some difficult experiences are more normalized in music: breakups, mostly. And don’t get me wrong, I have my own melodramatic breakup song (as every singer-songwriter does, see: ‘colorblind’). But I also have songs about addiction, getting sober, breaking up with a friend, and if we’re really going there, feeling like you aren’t good enough and no matter what you do or say, never will be.
I also make a conscious effort to be open and honest about where I come from. In my experience, there’s a sort of exclusivity in pursuing music. Being raised by Jewish immigrant parents, English being my second language, writing my first song at seventeen, not going to college, being a more masculine presenting lesbian- none of those things fit the bill of what I was told I needed to be in order to pursue this, but here I am.
All of this is to say: my ultimate goal is to make someone who needs it feel understood, and hopefully, less alone.
The moment I learned that I wasn’t alone in my feelings my world opened: how beautiful it is to feel heard.
How beautiful it is to know that changing someone’s life can be as simple as writing a song.”
“I have dreamed of becoming a well-known musical talent since I was six years old. I started as a band head and lover of musical instruments in fifth grade when I began playing instruments that included the baritone, trombone, and cymbals. As I got older and started appreciating who I have become as an artist, representing LGBTQ lesbians, my music appreciation grew. I challenge myself to learn words daily and apply them in my artistry to reach a worldwide range of people who are representative of myself and those who feel unheard or not accepted in society.
I envision my music as a story for people to understand who they are and stand on their values. To learn how to open up and not stay silent. I vision my music to inspire people to accept who they are and understand judgment as a builder, not a downplay of who they are as a unique person or member of the LGBTQ community. I am inspired by the most underrepresented class of society. I want to be a voice of reason for LGBTQ lesbians in Hip-Hop, Rap, and R&B.”
“Ultimately, I want to affect and impact people with my work. Even if only one person can feel seen or understood by one of my songs, that makes it all worth it! Artistically, I hope to continue to push myself and break boundaries within myself and within the music industry. As an LGBTQ artist, I aim to make popular music that includes LGBTQ stories. I create a lot from my own personal experience, so I hope if I dig as deep as possible within myself, I can connect to a wider audience. I also wish to make art that has a cultural impact. I believe art is the most powerful way to make change and get messages across. As long as I am making music I am always keeping that in the back of my mind. Lastly, I want to make art that equally celebrates the human experience, and examines it. My favorite artists have songs that feel euphoric to celebrate to, and songs that connect you to the deepest parts of your soul.”
“I suffered from emotional abuse as a child, I spent a lot of time pretty shut down and didn’t always feel safe expressing vulnerability. Writing and journaling became a huge outlet for me. In high school, I would free write for 10 minutes a day and let whatever needed to come out, out. I used to listen to a lot of Corinne Bailey Rae, Macy Gray, India Arie, Lauren Hill, Alicia Keys, and many others who wrote about their own pain, healing, intimacy, and vulnerability. I would sit there, break down their lyrics, and try to apply their words to my own life. I found a lot of truth and guidance in other people’s music and applied that and my own healing. My dream is to create the same safe space and guidance those artist created for me. It’s been extremely powerful and validating to hear and observe how others connect with my music. I’ve had audience members come to me after my shows in tears sharing their own experiences and it’s been really rewarding learning I’m becoming that same outlet some of those artists were for me.”
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
“Born on a high desert wind, Sheverb is a womxn-led, collectively run, psychedelic desert rock band based in Austin, TX. Armed with their instruments, the Ladies of Reverb are out to challenge our understanding of the romanticized old west, a masculine mythology permeating our contemporary society, with their cinematic, surf-infused sounds. They represent an alternative to a Manifest Destiny-esque worldview, honoring coexistence over conquest, collaboration over domination.
Being womxn-led and with over 50% queer members, we are very conscience that the troupes and myths of the old west can be problematic for people such as ourselves. We use our music to create conversations about how we can re-imagine these myths by actually understanding the reality of the old west. In order to survive you need to be in a community, working with the land and each other.”
“With the mantra ‘Live. Love. Dance’ at the core of my art, my vision is to use my music to create safe spaces for Black queer folk and Black women. My EP, ‘MAN.MUSE.MAGIC.’ was inspired by conversations about love and relationships that I’ve had with people who sit at the intersection of those two identities. Those conversations were filled with life lessons, joy, accountability, and compassion and I believe that music can deliver those same sentiments. I want audiences to feel free to sing, dance, and even cry at my show because they know that they’re surrounded by community. From the studio to the stage, I hope to encourage my listeners who may feel othered and affirm that their uniqueness is truly divine.”
“My goal with my music has always been to create relatable music. There’s nothing more fulfilling than listening to one of your favorite artist’s songs and feeling like it was made for you because you connect with it so much. I want to be real and transparent with whoever is listening to my music. I also don’t just want to write songs about love. We as musicians/artists are able to create change even just with our words and become very political like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, HER, and more. It’s important to be aware of our influence even just through our music and the change we can create as well.
I also want to show that minimalism in music is ok…Through my music, I want to show that you can be successful in this business even just by having minimalist music production and looks. You don’t need much to connect with people because there’s an audience for everyone and they’ll love you for who you are. I want to stay true to that.”
“I want those who listen to my music to feel invincible, unbreakable, unwavering in their faith. I want to serve as a reminder that if you try hard enough and remain true to yourself, then that is enough to be anything in this world that you wish. I am inspired by everything around me and the success of others like me. More importantly, I am inspired by my own journey and personal growth. When I was younger there were very few LGBTQ+ artists or openly queer people in general. I am inspired when I see people like me accomplishing their goals and reaching their dreams. I created a space (open mics) for artists like myself to come express themselves and showcase their talents. I want to inspire people to go after their dreams, be the example I never had. I hope and know that one day I will be able to be that light for someone else. I want to be a voice for those who are thinking about giving up and quitting, who have no hope. My motto is ‘Don’t quit,’ I have it written as a tattoo, and as a poster above my desk in my at-home studio. I want to serve as an example of what happens when you don’t quit especially as an emerging LGBTQ+ artist.”