We’re proud to introduce the 15 recipients of the 2023 LGBTQ+ Emerging Artist Award! Each artist is awarded $10,000 to further amplify their voice and support their creative journey. Learn more about the artists by clicking their profile below.
Genre: Indie Rock/Folk
“As an artist but more importantly as a human being who constantly desires to grow and uplift my community, I want to be able to remind folks that human development and care is so incredibly important to keep people not only together, but treating each other with love and respect. My desire to make music was born out of not finishing art school and needing a new outlet at which to express the full range of who I really am and what really matters to me. I only ever seek to make room for self-reflection, bravery, community, failure, and of course love. I think there is something so special about getting to witness someone discover something life-changing about themselves and watch them put it into action. I want folks to feel like they can make those discoveries and decisions even when it feels really hard.”
“I aim to make music that brings people together and makes a difference. I have been addressing topics such as homophobia and police brutality in my music since I started recording because these issues affect me heavily as a queer Black person. I turn to music to process my emotions. Sharing the songs that I write in moments of pain has allowed me to create space for others to process their emotions as well. The reception to my songs such as “Revival,” “As I Am,” and “X-RAY” revealed that these works fostered connections with those who share my experiences by providing representation for their stories. I received messages from queer people around the world, both older and younger than me, who connected with “Revival” in particular. These responses affirmed that each of us ultimately wants the same thing: to love freely and be loved. Bringing people together through music is both a blessing and a responsibility that I take very seriously. My songs have also raised awareness of current issues by inviting those who cannot relate to engage with new perspectives. Currently, queer and transgender communities are being attacked by legislature on local, state, and national levels. It is a dangerous time to be queer in America. My music allows me to declare my belief that each of us is deserving of love. When I was growing up, I looked to queer artists for affirmation and comfort, and I aspire to be a resource to queer children through my music today.”
“As a bi/queer black male R&B artist, I believe that I have a unique point of view and story to share. Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t have many examples of black queer men to look up to in general, but more specifically within the music industry. I can only imagine the impact it would’ve had on my younger self to hear someone like me on the radio or see someone like me performing on the TV screen. As I’ve gotten older I’ve embraced the notion that if no one else is going to make music that tells a story like mine, then I’ll do it myself. For far too long, stories such as mine have been pushed aside and unacknowledged due to industry politics, but that has not stopped me from doing what I can to create songs that are vulnerable, revealing & relatable. As I continue to evolve and grow both personally and musically, I hope that my music and my career will serve as an example of achievement and inspire the next generation of young black queer artists to tell their stories, find their audience, and go hard for their own dreams.”
Genre: Singer-Songwriter/Musical Theater
“I want to spread queer joy to families through my songs and videos! I want to share the love and warmth I feel now that I’m living in my authentic truth as a queer and trans-non-binary person. I want to show kids and families that it’s “okay to be gay” and that being different is special! There is so much hate in the world and I want to show young people that showing up as your authentic self is something worth celebrating with those you love. I’ve been a singer my whole life and using my voice and uke on my back to spread that message of queer joy to young folks is exactly the thing I wished I’d had when I was a confused queer kid. I think it’s something we need now more than ever.”
Genre: Alternative Hip-Hop/R&B
“My journey is fueled by a relentless passion for growth and a profound desire to create life-changing experiences. I’m always eager to extend my reach and impact through my music. While the nature of this opportunity may go unspoken, its potential to amplify my message of guidance, healing, and personal growth is nothing short of extraordinary. At the core of my musical expression lies a commitment to uplifting and inspiring my listeners. I strive to serve as a beacon of hope, guiding them through the labyrinth of life’s challenges and illuminating a path toward self-discovery and fulfillment. Every lyric, melody, and rhythm is crafted with meticulous care, aiming to touch the depths of the human soul and awaken the dormant seeds of positivity within. While I firmly believe in the power of positivity, I also recognize the importance of acknowledging and embracing the full spectrum of human emotions. I embrace the complexities of life and the myriad of experiences that come with it, using them as a catalyst for growth and transformation. It’s through these deep dives into the human psyche that I connect with the introspective thinkers of the world, those who yearn for a musical sanctuary where they can explore the depths of their own thoughts and emotions.”
“I draw influence from a wide variety of genres, including but not limited to indie acoustic soul, folk, rock, bluegrass, and roots music; genres that have been the backbone to Austin’s music scene for decades. I focus on making music an inclusive space for all to be able to enjoy and relate to, as well as using music for mental health awareness.
Genre: Exotic Tropical Pop
“I have been creating diverse music that is a blend of genres. I try to make my music a vehicle to spread positivity and encourage people everywhere to do the same. In my music videos, I encourage others to be their true selves and be open about who they are, not to be afraid of their sexuality. My debut record is a tropical pop/reggae single “Coconut Rum and Coke” – a breezy reggae track that mimics the laid-back vibe of its title, featuring Latin Grammy-winning producer Maffio. My music videos “Coconut Rum and Coke” and “You’re Real” both celebrate lesbian love stories. I also just released a new music video “Numb” feat. another lesbian artist/rapper Dai Burger. Quote from Diva Mag- UK Lesbian magazine “Keeana is an active member of the LGBTQ community and she is not afraid to flaunt queer female sexuality in her music videos. The video for “NUMB” features an all-lesbian cast that – alongside Keeana – also includes rapper Dai Burger, DJ Citizen Jane, and music artist Ariana Castelli.”
“My vision is rooted in honesty and self-exploration. I believe in using my music as a medium to confront the depths of my own experiences, to gain understanding and acceptance. It’s about zooming in on the most vulnerable parts of myself, magnifying them, and bringing them to the surface on my own terms. I aim to challenge societal norms and expectations, shedding light on topics like body dysmorphia, self-image, and the struggles of being different. Collaborating with talented writers and producers who push me creatively has been an incredible growth experience. I strive to create a cohesive sound that reflects my clear vision. My goal is to make music that resonates deeply with others, allowing them to feel seen and understood. I want my art to inspire introspection, courage, and healing, inviting you to embark on your own journey of self-discovery.”
“I feel like all artists are really holding space for people to process the joy and sorrow and mundanity that are all a part of the human experience. It’s for you AND for me. We are all ‘in it’ to some degree and my music reflects that as honestly as it possibly can. I think it’s important that music tells a truth – whether yours or someone else’s. I want to hold space and I want to tell the truth and I want to create moments that allow people to feel seen through my experiences. I think that’s really important and extraordinarily powerful.”
Genre: Acoustic Pop
“My guiding principle is to write music that spreads self-love. I went through a lot during my self-discovery journey/coming out; for a long time, I thought I’d never be able to live life as peacefully as I do now. That’s why I write about my lesbian identity, recovery, sobriety, and more; I believe my vulnerability is my strength. Each song I’ve written aims to empower some part of myself, and in turn, hopefully empowers listeners. “Loud,” “Henrietta’s,” and “Proud of Me” celebrate my identity; “Things Don’t Fit” and “Beautiful Little Life” deal with topics like recovery and sobriety; and my future project, which I hope receives your support, aims to speak to my younger self.”
Genre: Indie Pop/R&B
“Creating music and spaces that are meant for EVERYBODY. I explore a lot of different genres and topics within my songs, which sometimes means acknowledging negativity, struggle, and mistakes. However, I always want the sound of my music to be fun, upbeat, dance-y, allowing listeners to move and groove. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I aim to create an inclusive discography which comes out partly in my storytelling. I omit the use of pronouns in my music (besides the first person “you” and “I”) in order to create songs that can be sung by any individual. The industry is overwhelmingly heterosexual sometimes, and there are spaces that aren’t meant for everyone. However, my discography is meant for any person to indulge. I have also started studying sound healing, and seeing how I can incorporate that within my songs. I want to infuse these vibrations into my music so that listeners experience the music in a physical way, going beyond lyrics and melody. In this extremely fast-paced world that we live in, I strive to create bodies of work. Everyone wants a 15-second earworm to indulge in, no thanks to the attention span the internet has given us. But those who are looking for novels (albums) with multiple chapters (songs) can start with Track 1 to explore the sonic journey I take my listeners on.”
“In September 2022, Autumn co-founded eQuality Events, an organization focused on creating extraordinary opportunities where music can transcend gender, identity, genre, color, or who you love. It creates safe, welcoming, authentic, and affirming concerts and events that build communities and celebrate how music keeps us in tune with who we are and who we aspire to become. It seeks to change the narrative, create lanes, and open minds so that we focus on how being human is what unites us as human beings. The organization hosted its first two events on NYE at City Winery in Nashville, presenting the city’s first LGBTQ+ NYE concerts. They are also curating an LGBTQIA+ round on opening night at AmericanaFest. Autumn was asked by the iconic Bluebird Café to host its first shows to celebrate Black History Month, curating two shows on February 4. Autumn will also host The Bluebird Café’s first Pride round on Thursday, June 22, ahead of their performance at Nashville Pride. Their experience as a mixed, non-binary, gay artist has opened doors and eyes in Nashville, informed their writing, and inspired Autumn to tackle issues including identity, women’s rights, equality, mental health, and other issues. Autumn’s song “On A Sunday” is their own personal story of realizing who they are as a human, “Not Gonna Do This Anymore” could be an anthem for a woman’s right to choose. Dealing, released in the fall of last year, is about mental health and the pressures faced in today’s social network-driven world.”
Genre: Ambient Indie
“I want to be a voice for fellow queer, Asian, female creatives in the music industry. I want to continue making music that speaks my truth, whether it be about love, heartbreak, pain, trauma, or mental health, in hopes that it resonates with other fellow minorities and underrepresented souls like me. My music is for the paradoxes of the world who felt like they didn’t belong and were rarely ever given a chance to be heard. I want people to drown in the cinematic soundscapes I produce, coupled with raw and authentic lyrics to make them feel the things I feel and see me for me. I hope to write stories that allow people to be interwoven into mine.”
Genre: Queer Pop
“Some of my favorite moments in my life so far are at pop concerts. That absolute high you feel when you finally get to see that artist you’ve been loving, amidst live production magic. LED Screens, flashing lights, confetti, and at the core of it all, beautiful music. I am such a huge fan of the scale of Pop. It’s grandiose. It’s not afraid to take risks, push buttons, and do it with the most stunning sheen. There’s no other genre I’d rather play and create in than Pop. When imagining the mark I’m going to make on the world and the industry, I imagine a bold new perspective. Lil Nas X’s unapologetic queerness meets Max Martin-esque hooks. My voice is one that is not afraid to make music that appeals to everyone while holding strong in my truth and my messaging.”
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 match who they are. The Award provides 15 outstanding emerging LGBTQ+ music artists with $10,000 each to help support their creative journeys.