Observations: Singer-Songwriter Courtnie On the Importance of Authenticity
This week we are happy to reveal a new editorial from The Folklore’s "Observations" series. Curated by The Folklore team, "Observations" is a periodic series that strives to share the personal observations of artists, musicians, designers, and other creatives from around the world. The observations’ each subject shares primarily focus on topics related to love, art, health, food, spirituality, and anything else that compels them.
Our latest Observations subject is 27-year-old, singer-songwriter and creative strategist, Courtnie Henson. Living in Brooklyn by way of Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis, the R&B artist relishes in the sweet spot where the right and left brains collide—as an independent musician and as a strategic data-driven storyteller at BET Networks.
Courtnie’s desire to become a musician started young. Her dad’s vinyl collection and her grandmother’s voice sparked her interest in this art form. At 22 years old she debuted her first EP, Nebula, that introduced a unique neo-soul sound that can feel ethereal and escapist. After releasing her second EP I Feel Like Color in September 2017, she garnered an overwhelming number of positive responses. She landed a commercial with Viceland and partnered with Airbnb to host a series of intimate ‘Soul Sounds’ concerts in New York.
Writing aimlessly as much as possible eases Courtnie’s creativity when she’s in the studio. "I don’t feel super lost when it comes to what’s on my mind," says Courtnie. "Those feelings that felt aimless initially usually become lyrics that mean a lot to me." Her early music influences are wide: Nina Simone because of her activism, Jill Scott because of her authenticity, Erykah Badu for the risks she takes, Prince because of his agency over the composition process, Mariah Carey and Frank Ocean because of their songwriting and Beyonce because of her work ethic.
Courtnie welcomed The Folklore team into her Brooklyn home to explain how she finds balance in the world while rocking looks from Nigerian womenswear brands Fruché and I.AM.ISIGO and Cape Town jewelry brands Lorne and Pichulik.
Shirt: Osagi Shirt Dress by Fruché // Earrings: Puppet Earrings by Lorne
“I want my music to be a platform that facilitates greater, systemic change in the world. I’m in the process of learning more about education and prison reform, and would love to invest in one or more charter schools one day and potentially influence public policy in favor of disadvantaged people as a whole.”
“I know it’s trendy to make fun of transplant culture, but transplants make the world go ‘round, in a way. If we all stayed in one place for eternity, the earth would look so different. I mean, slavery was not it, but now that we have the freedom to explore as we please, I’m so glad I’m someone who continues to take advantage. From Chicago, to St. Louis, to Los Angeles, to now, I’ve gained so much from taking on new challenges in foreign places, whether by force as a kid or by choice as an adult. New York is SO vibrant and such an incredible challenge that I’m extremely grateful for.
Jacket: Crushed PVC Black Jacket by I.AM.ISIGO // Earrings: Jade Hoop Earrings by Pichulik
“Me showcasing black women experiencing joy isn’t super intentional because I honestly feel like I witness our joy in every corner. I’m simply portraying real life. My friends and I, we be sad sometimes. But we’re also happy as hell.
“Believe it or not, my digital persona and the real “Courtnie” are pretty much the same *clap* girl *clap*. I pride myself in that. In my stories, I purposely show myself in my bonnet, with my twist-out halfway done, mid-weave-install or braid appointment, etc. I purposely post my Saturday nights with friends across all industries and backgrounds because no, I’m not a robot and I don’t just sit with my notebook or in a studio or on video sets 24/7.
Find Courtnie's music on Apple Music and YouTube.
Photography - Amandla Baraka
Producer - Raven Irabor
Styling - Courtnie Henson
Writer - Christine Noumba Um