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Summer Walker Is Proof That No One Is Exempt From Social Anxiety

(Especially Not Black Women.)

Celebrity News

Living in the digital age, I've grown to learn that we have a distorted view of what depression and anxiety really mean, especially as a Black woman. It's important to know that whoever told y'all that melanin is Teflon, both impenetrable and impervious to vulnerability, was a damn lie.

Anxiety doesn't always mean panic attacks and crying all day; sometimes a severe case of the jitters looks like 27 unread text messages and a sink full of dishes. Anxiety and depression are mental illnesses that manifest in different ways for different people, and Black women are not exempt; especially Black women who just so happen to be famous.

Summer Walker recently released her debut album, Over It, which quickly broke Beyonce's record for the most-streamed album by a female R&B artist ever and although the 23-year-old artist has earned recognition from some of the industry's heaviest hitters, she still battles every day with the thought of giving up music for good and living a "normal life".

In addition to protecting her energy during meet and greets, in a recent video Summer announced that she has decided to cut her 'First and Last Tour' short.

Anxiety can cause some of the biggest moments in our lives to be some of the most terrifying and Summer Walker has been living this reality since the world caught whiff of her flame. In the past, the "Girls Need Love" singer has been transparent about her introverted nature and knows that just because she's alone doesn't mean she has to be lonely. Although this affinity to roll solo has seemingly worked for Summer in the past, she's struggled to master the art of the switch-up since her rise to fame.

Last month before her Tiny Desk Concert performance, the singer opened up about it:

"Look, I'm really freaking excited to be here, but I have social anxiety like a motherfucker. So, yeah. I'm freaked the hell out. I'm sweating. But this is so exciting for me."

In a since-deleted post on Instagram, Summer explained that it doesn't always manifest in ways that people might think:

"It affects your occupational performance. It affects romantic relationships, friendships (which I have none ) & pretty much throws you into depression."

She went on to explain that her anxiety can be so paralyzing, that she can sometimes be unaware of the vibe she gives off to others and I can totally relate. Sometimes my resting b*tch face is really just me trying to remember to breathe in a room full of people, and Summer says that often, this has caused her to miss out on a number of opportunities to cultivate meaningful connections:

"This ain't a sob story, just a lot of plp (sic) don't know me so they take me as being rude or difficult to [get] close to."

Protecting your privacy is a superpower and achieving a certain level of success doesn't make you exempt from emotional turmoil. Summer Walker reminds us to take care of you, first sis. Everybody else will understand.

Featured image by Instagram/@SummerWalker.

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.”

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