A student of R&B’s masterful vocalists Nina Simone, Dionne Warwick, Anita Baker, Beyoncé Knowles and Mary J. Blige, and one of nine children, Fana Hues was raised within a large musical family. Her father, a bass, guitar, and piano player, taught her and her sisters how to sing. “Music is literally in the fabric of our family, and our bond as a family,” she said about her relatives, who make appearances in the form of memories in the self-conceptualized video for the single “Notice Me.” Her family is also the inspiration behind the moniker Hues, named to reflect their surname Hughes, as well as Fana’s intention to be innovative in her approach.
“I want to capture all the different shades of one idea,” she explained about bending and twisting R&B, and bringing elements of herself to the genre.
Fana trained in violin lessons for eight years, and after inheriting a bass from her father, taught herself to play. In school, an English teacher encouraged her poetry and writing skills, and by the time she was a teen, Fana was writing her own songs. “It was one of my favorite things to do for a long time,” she said about trips to San Quentin State Prison, where she participated in writer’s workshops and emotional literacy programs with inmates as a part of a local community organization, Aim4TheHeart. It’s where Fana said she developed her voice as a songwriter, and rooted her musical practice in service to others.
Over the past five years, Fana has released a slew of demos, sporadically sharing old songs she says she just had lying around. Hence, her collection, Hues, feels like her first real body of work. “When I was writing it, I was mourning a relationship,” Fana said about the meticulous, soul-stirring 10-track project. An expression of heartbreak and lost love, Hues unpacks and breaks down the stages of grief, in all its shades. Intuitive, powerhouse vocals run and repeat over entrancing, soulful production, cathartically etching the process of grief, which Fana described as “denying the fact that it happened, turning it into shameful pettiness, self-reflection, re-grounding myself and acceptance, and then letting it go.” The sonically sprawling collection of tracks weaves moody trances with funky bass lines and delicate strings, landing cohesively as a thorough reflection on the complexity of human emotion.
“I thought it was super important for me as a Black woman to be open about that because so many times I feel like I'm not allowed to express my emotions,” she said. In Fana’s words, “I’m kind of all over the place, but there’s always a method to the madness; it’s all centered; it all has a purpose.”