Written by Kimberly Yates in collaboration with Raven Goodson
Cyanca—the Prodigious Queen of Neo-Soul, and why You NEED to Know Her
Cyanca’s Country Roots
Before Cyanca even finished the first grade, (in the small country city of Smithfield, North Carolina) the prodigious Queen of neo-soul fell in love with music and the art of making it. Raised by her beloved aged grandparents (born in the 30’s) and widowed father, Cyanca learned as she put it, “the BEST of both worlds,” and it shines like gold in her poetic, vibe-filled art. With wisdom and pure positivity, Cyanca relayed an example of her frugal grandparents blessing on her life from hangin’ clothes on the line to dry to experiencing how to “use [the] minimal resources to survive.” Cyanca’s music like her upbringing is layered with lesson and depth.
“From terrible suffering comes beautiful art,” anonymous
Life is suffering, and Cyanca like some has had more than her share. After losing her mother at two-years-old, she spent most of her time in the churches, namely the Baptist Church. There she built the skill set that would later reveal her purpose and hope—music. From seven years old to twenty-six, music kept Cyanca goin’ even when she lived from floor-to-floor at her friend’s homes. Even though life was dark, filled with depression, and a “little rough,” she said, she still played at the church, and that gave her hope. Cyanca’s sounds not only drop a soul soothing beat, but her lyrics are packed with pain, hope, wisdom, and courage. Like most poetry, her lyrics require pondering to measure the layers of meaning. She said of her music,
And her tunes carry a beautiful blend of varying sounds like R&B, Funk, Pop, and a Jazzy-soul anyone can appreciate.
Cyanca Passion and Purpose are Born
With no home to call her own, one of Cyanca’s friends posed the question, “If you could produce for anybody right now even if they were a celebrity who would it be?” Cyanca’s first thought was her favorite artist, Erykah Badu. But her friend didn’t stop there, like a true friend they pushed her. “What if [Erykah Badu] asked you to make something up on the spot?” Cyanca was taken back. She had no experience or know-how to record it. So, she blew it off, but fate wouldn’t let her. She said, “That night when I went to sleep … my spirit was just testing me, all night. [it was almost] Like … God [was] pushing me around and kinda wrestling with me. I woke up the next morning and started Googling studios.” That was 2014. She found a guy who offered to work with her, and she recorded her first song, “Badu.”
How Do You Create Your Unique Style?
“The majority of my life, I was a musician. …I started playing the keys and the drums at a young age, … but honestly most of my stuff comes from experiences … I went through in my childhood, but the best way for me to get a sound is [to find] … the right vibe.”
Muse of Her Vibe
When Cyanca is lookin’ to create her jazzy soulful sounds, she escapes the city and heads far away. Usually, to the mountains of North Carolina, specifically Ashville. She said, “The mountains, the bonfires, just the whole aesthetic of it always inspires me, cause it reminds me of home.” That feeling of home unlocks the wealth of experiences she pours into her lyrics. Plain and simple her unique sound and style stems from her Baptist influence, the classic musical roots of her grandparents, and a father from the 70’s and 80’s who loved artists like Run-DMC.
Study and Influence
Cyanca doesn’t just create from raw talent, although it’s clearly present; she majored in Music at USC Greensboro, where she studied jazz and percussion. She said of her education’s influence, “My sound is cultivated … [with] a lot of base. You’re gonna hear a lot of pocket music [a delayed beat with a laid-back feel] that we refer to in the church, a lot of corset-sound [the free spirit style] of jazz trumpets. But yeah, I have a lot of soul, and a lot of things embedded in my brain.”
Even though Cyanca’s music has that old soul feel to it, she says she lives and directs her music by Solange’s example of “no ceiling,” meaning there are no limits to what she may explore, accomplish, and create. She expressed the no-limit vision herself best, “I see myself grow musically…and sometimes it’s hard to believe. … There’s a lot of jazz in my music, and I always try to keep that element, but my sound is expanding.” In her latest project released only weeks ago (September 10th “Fast Times” by Infinite Companion) Cyanca said, “There’s pop in there there’s funk, and those were sounds I’d never explored before. And I was scared because I know that my fans, they love that vibe; they love that groove [of] old school R&B…, but I didn’t want to be boxed in because I know what I’m capable of.”
Passion, Purpose, and Poise
Cyanca is one determined lady of talent. She knows where she comes from, where’s she headed, and what she aims to inspire. Check her out at, cyanca.is or catch her old soul vibes at Infinite Companion. Like and share out her albums: The Isle of Queens, I’m Staying Home, and her latest project Fast Times, or download some of her favs:
- “Fast Times”
- Patti Mayonnaise
- “Katina Brother”