For me, creating an expression through music is an absence of fear, artist Yohanna E.
Carrying on a dream to put her mark in the music industry, this young Eritrean artist has a story to share. Since her young age, she has always known her passion for music and chose her journey from the beginning to deeply fall in to music. Yohanna Efrem, better known by her stage name Yohanna E, has worked diligently to be recognized as an artist whose works inspire others to lead a life with purpose and value their identity. Growing up in Seattle, USA, Yohanna E. grew close to her Eritrean heritage through the strong ties her parents have to their country.
Today, we have invited Yohanna to share her musical journey, the challenges and breakthroughs she has experienced over the years.
- -Who is Yohanna E.?
I was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Seattle. I have been into music since I was a kid, but it has been almost ten years since I made it my full time profession. I have been making music videos, travelling around and preforming. With a mind to make my parents proud, I stopped doing my music and decided to get my bachelor’s In Communication and Public Affairs. I felt like that was the least I could do for my parents and their dreams for me. At present, I am focusing on art as a song writer, rapper and singer. I have been travelling and performing working on music videos and focusing on my goals and vision to make music in the culture I grew up in, the community, its traditions, food and fashion.
- -Yohanna E’s Vision
My ultimate goal is to be connected. As a child whose parents migrated and I talk about respecting parents, where they came from and their values. Understanding their perspectives and what they had to go through, I have always respected that. For me as an artist, I purposely write from those perspectives so that the younger generation could connect. I like to put the parts, sticking them into your roots, where you come from and knowing your identity and not just living life without a purpose. Most of my music is about showcasing the value in life.
- -What E. Represents
Yohana means celebration and the E in my name stands for my journey with so many elements. It represents Epic, Emotion, Evolution, Excellence, Education, Entertainer and Eritrean.
- -Music Expedition….Building Her Way
It just kind of happened. I have always been pulled by music since I was young. I would dance, I would rap and sing and go to the library and print out lyrics and learned them just for fun. Growing up, many great musicians have inspired me. Mariah Cary is my number one. I love her vulnerability and the way she sings is just smooth. I would also listen to brandy, 2pak, TLC, Janet Jackson and others. These artists have played a great role as my inspiration. Music for me, creating an expression, is an absence of fear. I am not fearful when I am writing a song; it is just me and my mic. It’s like a diary; every song is a page for my diary. That is how I view my music personally.
- -Defies……Getting a Better Understanding of the Music Industry!
What kept me going was the love I had for music. What were difficult were those around you — do they just want you to pay for the studio time? Do they care about your vision? Do they want to change you? I have met many ANRs and managers in the industry over the years who wanted to control my vision. It has been difficult, honestly speaking. One of the biggest challenges was the topics I decided to talk about in my music. I was continually discouraged by the truth I wanted to talk about. Not everybody has to be expletive all the time; I actually had something to say and people didn’t get that. They were not sure if it was the right material that would sell. But I wanted to come up with something meaningful, something that would inspire people to live life with a purpose and respect for themselves and family.
Another thing was not having those close to you believe in you. Having them doubt you. Some confessed it years later when they saw to what I have grown into. But at the beginning they thought it was just a joke. But I would say the most challenging thing is to not having the time to be fully committed to have a successful relationship. As an artist you are going to have to be called last minute to the studio, or travel, so you don’t have time to be with that person. However, all these obstacles I had to face in the music world have helped me to decide who to bring around me and my artistry. My artistry is something special and vulnerable to me, something that I love. I am very careful with whom I speak about my visions and my goals. I am very careful as to who I bring to my home. These days it is easier for me because I come with a concrete brand that I have built by myself.
- -Music Works
Even though I still work on songs with message in them, I have learned how to page a product. My music goes universal. I have afro beat, hip-hop, rap, etc. in which I talk about love, my upbringing and my identity. So, in the past people in the music industry didn’t want topics where you talk about your parents and your love for them. But these days, they all love what I come up with since I know how to package it. I have released four singles. The last one is called love on me, and it is a mix of afro beats of Tigrigna and English. I am actually going to shoot a video in Massawa and Asmara for it. I am also collaborating with famous Eritrean artists and making new songs. I am glad to say that I feel very special to be given the platform to perform at the 20th June Martyrs Day. I understand that this day carries a deep meaning for all the Eritreans around the world, and it gives me great pleasure to be part of it. I am an Eritrean first and then an artist. I am here to see if I can be part of a project and assist in any way I can and share my time and my talent. I think it is important to know where you come from.
- -Message from Yohanna E. to all ladies with a dream!
Find your truth, find your passion and inspiration and stick to it. The whole international wave that tells you that you can’t do it, well, you can do anything that you put your mind and heart to. What I am and what I do and how I grew up is all me, and no one can be a better me. I just want everyone to compete and if you can be the best you, you can win it a l l . That is the dream.