Updated: Feb 20
Chicago is home to many notable artists, including Kanye West, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Da Brat, and Chance The Rapper, with immense contributions to the music industry. There’s also this rising star, Ifeanyi, pronounced with a silent “y”, meaning “With God nothing is impossible,” who’s ready to make her mark.
As a first-generation Belizean-American, Ifeanyi was born and raised primarily in Avalon Park, Chicago on the southeast side of the city. She moved around frequently in her younger years, but her dream of becoming a singer remained constant. She’s been singing since she “came out of the womb,” and if you know her personally, you hear her singing all the time! “My first-grade teacher would complain about me singing, I'm sure she thought something was seriously wrong with me,” Ifeanyi stated and laughed.
At the age of 14, she attended Nicholas Senn High School, studying music performance and specializing in vocal studies in their arts program. Despite living on the south side, Ifeanyi, in hopes of perfecting her craft, traveled “An hour and 30 minutes daily” to get to school. Talk about dedication!
There, she also discovered her love for musical theatre and participated in After School Matters at Gallery 37 in downtown Chicago. Obtaining chorus roles in musicals such as, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, UrineTown, Six in “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, Into the Woods, and more.
As our conversation progressed, she recalled her first performance at Nicholas Senn High School. “My legs were literally shaking, and the audience could tell, I didn’t sound bad, but the attention was definitely on my legs. However, it didn't matter, I endured what I had to endure because I love singing that much!”
On the topic of her love for singing, music is therapeutic for Ifeanyi, and allows her to use her love of journalism to express her emotions and truth. Regarding inspiration, Ifeanyi is inspired by Nicki Minaj, Paramore, Ariana Grande, Jill Scott, Celia Cruz, Queen Latifah, Doja Cat, late legends Selena Quintanilla, Bob Marley, and more. In her opinion, music is embedded in all these artists, and they can’t deny it. She also resonates with their drive to represent their culture, making them who they are.
As stated earlier, Ifeanyi is Belizean-American and a Garifuna descendant of an Afro-indigenous population from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. In 2017, she created the hashtag #GarifunaGirlMagic, embracing her culture and creating awareness. “Belize is a melting pot of black and Latino people. We’re all connected, and my heritage is important to my music because I’m a representation of Belizean culture,” she stated.
Regarding the music industry, she believes it's a business, and you have to be passionate and make the right moves without falling into a trap. She stated, “As a local artist, promotion and social media are important, and if you want to make the right moves in the industry, you need the money, confidence, and stability; it’s not easy."
In 2018, Ifeanyi dropped her debut singles ‘Sharon’ and ‘Note to Self’, which can be found on all streaming platforms. In addition, she recently released her lead single ‘XO’ off her debut LP, ‘Everything Fefestyle’ which will be dropping April 2020. Two years from now, Ifeanyi has goals of touring across the country, reaching a following of 10,000 on Instagram, bringing in revenue through music, and creating a platform to share her writing/stories.
Aside from music, Ifeanyi enjoys modeling, fashion, and writing. “I LOVE to write. Writing is what makes my music enjoyable, it helps me capture my vulnerability and communicate it effectively.” Ifeanyi also takes an interest in history and immersing herself in her culture.
When it comes to advice for aspiring artists, she would tell them to "Just do it!" It’s not going to be the picture you created in your head, but still put yourself out there. She also advises artists to attend local shows/open-mics in their community. “You'll never know who you will meet, but understand it takes time and work. I’m still struggling, but you have to figure it out, and don’t be hesitant to ask for help,” she concluded.
Read more about Ifeanyi Elswith below.
What are some food items you dislike?
I don’t like cow feet and okra, but it’s growing on me!
What’s one thing you absolutely need in the studio?
I need peace so I can think and water!
What’s one thing you wish you didn’t have to pay for?
I wish I didn’t have to pay for uber, it takes too much of my money!
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I’ll probably be working on everything I wasn’t able to complete.
Would you rather be an extreme couponer or an antique hoarder?
I would rather be an antique hoarder because I enjoy meaningful things.
What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?
My biggest peeve deals with individuals who try to tell me what I should do, and things about myself that I already know!
Check out Ifeanyi Elswith single XO below, and keep up wih her with the following!
Facebook: @ifeanyielswith Ifeanyi Elswith