Although Chicago is home to some of the most influential artists in the world, the city lacks the industrial resources of regional powerhouses like New York City or Los Angeles. However, in the past five years this city has taken major strides toward becoming a self-sustaining machine. These days, more and more artists are coming to the city with aspirations for a career in music. From rappers to producers, singers and engineers, the city is attracting outside creatives by the flock, and they’re hungry for success.
An transplant by the name of Brittany Nacole is becoming a familiar face in the city. Most recently she held a listening party for her newly released album at AMFM Gallery in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Curating the event herself, Earf Gurl: The Listening Experience received a warm welcome to the scene. This accomplishment came at the expense of her own sweat and tears; it’s taken her two years to complete this project. Now that Earf Gurl has arrived, Brittany Nacole is ready to face the world.
Brittany Nacole hails from Lima, Ohio, a small town Northwest of the city of Columbus. She’s been singing as long as she can remember. Because she moved around a lot, Brittany went to several different school districts growing up. Aside from repeatedly being the new girl in school, she was often the new “black girl”, attending a range of ethnically predominant institutions. Singers like Beyonce, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott are some that’ve helped her build confidence as a young woman of color. It was after hearing Destiny’s Child’s sophomore album, Writing On The Wall that she decided to be a singer; she wrote her first song the day before her twelfth birthday. After that, music and choir became a way of life through her high school years.
During a vocational music program at Fort Hayes Arts and Academics High School in Columbus, Brittany developed a taste for philanthropy, performing her songs at fundraising events. After finishing school, she moved to Chicago for college. Here, she attended Columbia College as a music composition major, but due to financial hardship her academic career ended before graduating. Brittany’s had one hell of a journey surviving in the Windy City. In order to make ends meet, she’s worked as a street representative for the Human Rights Campaign, not to mention holding a number of positions in the retail and food industry, all while she was still in school. Even with these instances of stability, she’s faced the cold reality of eviction and homelessness, in some cases for months at a time. Although she’s experienced many struggles since moving here, these ups and downs have done little to thwart her resolve.
Brittany’s new album was actually finished over two years ago, but life has a funny way of panning out. Like most independent artists, Brittany payed for her own studio time. A result of an unfortunate accident, Brittany’s work was lost due to a hard drive failure, a major setback for any aspiring artist. Fortunately, she found solace through OnGaud producer/engineer, Q, at Solar Five Studios. Along with Q and a network of other producers and musicians from Chicago and abroad, Brittany began rebuilding and completed her long awaited LP making close-knit additions to her musical family along the way. This is essential for survival when you’re as far from home as she is. Nearly four hundred miles from her entire family, Brittany’s made it on her own, without the semblance of a safety net many her age are accustom to having.
Her strength to move forward is no doubt the driving force behind her music. Her song “#Rant” produced by Spazzbot.exe, Brittany takes a brash look at life while refocusing her energy on the positives, “Got two jobs tryna keep up with my rent, 24 on the scene tryna make a hit.” Chicago is imperative to her growth as a singer, after all it was here when she began recording and releasing music. What you’ll find in her catalog, are different accounts on what’s happened since becoming a resident, the people she’s come to know, the ones she’s outgrown. Looking back on her debut, the Daydream EP (2014), one can experience candid storytelling from start to finish. She wrote the song “Strung Out”, produced by Felly, about the experience of dealing with a former loved one, “My dreams have been so vivid they’re the only life I’m living. I hope you’ll come back with me one day up from all this dreaming…” She’s not afraid to be vulnerable, a strength gained by persevering through all her struggles.
Today, apart from being a singer-songwriter, Brittany is a visual artist, and continues her philanthropy whenever she can. Knowing what it’s like to need help puts her in a better position to helps others. In the near future she plans to design and release merch for Earf Gurl, as well as launch a brand with her longtime friend and stylist KJ. For someone like Brittany, the sense of purpose lies beyond artistry, she aspires to influence young black girls all over the world with her music as well as her actions. As a curator, she plans to use the proceeds from her events for arts and health education charities. She wished to see more black female role models as an adolescent, now twenty-five years old, she’s well on her way to becoming one herself. The summer awaits more live appearances from Brittany Nacole, until then, her voice will build a platform for yet another unique mind here in Chicago.