Portland Musician KayelaJ Says She Grows as an Artist by “Being More Brave and Carefree and Speaking on Issues Surrounding Racism and Sexism.”

"My status as a musician makes me feel like I need to be more well-versed on what’s happening in the community. "

(she/her) | @kayelaj

Has your status as a musician with a platform affected how you look at issues in the community?

My status as a musician makes me feel like I need to be more well-versed on what's happening in the community. My music is very much about different oppressed groups—I talk a lot about what I've been through as a gay black women. I just feel like I need to take more responsibility as an artist and do more research because I have a platform and I have an opportunity to influence people's minds. I would hate to spew hate or ignorance in my music. I grow as an artist by being more brave and carefree and speaking on issues surrounding racism and sexism.

What has been the biggest community resource that has shaped your viewpoints and who you are today?

My biggest resource has been the program Self Enhancement Inc. It's a program for underprivileged youth. They taught us different standards, how to be creative and to be leaders. I've been in the program since the second grade. They taught me the importance of education and put me through college. I would also say the social psych classes I took in college were very influential in shaping who I am today, and my viewpoints and message as a musician and human being.