On June 17, 2021, the American Association of Independent Music — A2IM, for short — will once more bring the world together to honor the hard work and boundary-breaking vision of independent artists at the A2IM Libera Awards presented by Merlin and streaming exclusively on YouTube via A2IM’s official YouTube channel. This year’s Icon recipient will be soul and gospel icon Mavis Staples. Among this year’s scheduled performers are GRAMMY-nominated rock and soul duo Black Pumas, Grammy-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae, breakout British artist Arlo Parks, 3-time GRAMMY winner Fantastic Negrito, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, and Canadian-Colombian singer Lido Pimienta.
Born in Kedah, Malaysia and raised primarily in Kuala Lumpur, aforementioned singer-songwriter Yuna now splits her time between Malaysia and Los Angeles. Yuna began writing songs and teaching herself to play guitar at age 14, and recorded her debut album in 2008, earning her 5 Malaysian Music Award nominations. Her U.S. debut EP Decorate featured production by Grammy-award winning producer Pharrell Williams. 2019’s Rouge is her latest full-length, a follow-up to 2016’s critically-acclaimed Chapters, which featured collaborations with Usher, Jhené Aiko and DJ Premier. Billboard included the album in its “Critics’ Picks” for “Best R&B Album,” the single “Crush” — featuring Usher — peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Chart, and numerous award nominations followed.
On May 27, 2021, I had the pleasure of speaking with Yuna via Zoom, as embedded below. We spoke about her upcoming performance at this year’s A2IM Libera Awards, plans for her next album, life during COVID-19, music, television, coffee and more. More on Yuna and her Libera Awards performance next month can be found by clicking here, here, here and here.