Quantcast

Ari Lennox: "All Those No's Made Room For The Most Beautiful Yes"

For the R&B songstress, rejection was the pathway to her success.

Celebrity News

According to Dr. Phil, rejection is the number one fear that we have as human beings and I see no lies. So much of our fear, anxiety, and depression comes out of a need to be accepted and this is especially true for those who have chosen to follow their dreams.

R&B songstress Ari Lennox is no stranger to rejection but says that ultimately, it was the key to her success. From singing songs under her grandma's porch to watching Showtime at the Apollo with her other grandma, Ari Lennox says that she isn't new to this singing sh*t, she's true to it. The singer says that even as a kid, she struggled to keep her head out of the clouds and on her schoolwork. In a recent interview with The Undefeated, she said:

"I just couldn't focus on anything else in school but singing, which was what I was most consistent with and good at. And I'm talking about in my entire life. I was always getting fired or quitting other jobs, but I did try to do some courses."

These days, Ari spends her time decorating her new apartment, on tour opening up for Lizzo and taking bomb advice from Erykah Badu, but there was a point where the singer was dangerously close to becoming a nursing assistant.

"I took a bartending class, but I didn't finish it because I chickened out for the test. I did get my certified nursing assistant certificate, but I never used it. I tried, but my heart wasn't in it."

The singer says that despite toying with the idea of becoming a full-time mixologist, she never lost sight of her true passion and pursued her dream of becoming an artist relentlessly. After high school, Ari chased her dreams by way of talent showcases and American Idol auditions.

Although at the time, she was unsuccessful in her pursuits, she later learned that every "no" she was faced with was preparing her for the only "yes" that mattered. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Ari explained:

"And I remember they liked me a lot, they knew I stood out, but they just knew I wasn't ready. I appreciate that so much because I feel like all of those no's made room for the most beautiful yes — that was Dreamville."

Like all of us, Ari still has moments when she struggles with self-doubt, but her journey is a reminder that you already have everything you need to be successful, and the acceptance of others has never been a requirement on that list.

Ari says that while she's happy that she was able to prove to her late grandmas, brother, and newfound family at Dreamville that she's poised for greatness, it's more important that she was able to prove it to herself:

"I feel like I've really made them proud. I know it may come off cheesy, but if somebody's going to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, even more into you, you want to make sure you can return that; you want to make sure they feel good about their investment. Now I do feel OK being the first lady (of Dreamville) because I've shown them I can keep up. I can keep up with Cole."

To read Ari's full interview, click here! And watch her recent Tiny Desk Concert below!

Ari Lennox: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concertwww.youtube.com

Featured image via Giphy

The more Saweetie prioritizes her mental health, the more gems she drops in the process. The “Icy Chain” rapper has been open in the past about her mental health struggles due to being overworked and not properly taking care of herself. After having a few mental breakdowns, she has been on a mission to put her health first and focus on self-care.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Black women have been redefining what wellness looks like since the beginning of time. (I even have a real-life, sassy, still-walking-signifying-driving-gardening example of this via my own 92-year-old Granny, who is the epitome of manifestation and self-preservation, as she has always defined wellness on her own terms.) We continue to shift the narrative, especially when it comes to what "wellness" actually means as a Black woman in a world where it can be so hard to simply exist in fullness.

Keep reading...Show less

We all know what it is to love, be loved, or be in love – or at least we think we do. But what would you say if I were to tell you that so much of the love that you thought you’d been in was actually a little thing called limerence? No, it doesn’t sound as romantic – and it’s not – unless you’re into the whole Obsessed-type of love. But one might say at least one side of that dynamic might be…thrilling.

Keep reading...Show less

Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba are gearing up for the second season of their podcast Coupledom where they interview partners in business and/or romance. The stunning couple has been married for three years but they have been together for a total of six years. During that time, they have developed many partnerships but quickly learned that working together isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Keep reading...Show less

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Jay Ellis Shares ‘Full-Circle’ Moment With His Parents & His Self-Care Ritual

Staying grounded is one of the actor's biggest priorities.

Latest Posts