KeiyaA on the Role Hair Plays in Her Artistic Expression

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Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to reflect on their journeys to self-love, and how accepting their hair, in all its glory, played a pivotal role in this process. Each week, they share their favorite hair rituals, products, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned when it comes to affirming their beauty and owning their unique hair texture.

In honor of Juneteenth, the musician keiyaA is releasing a video compilation of her recent performance at the St. Augustine Church in New York, the only church in the city that has left its slave galleries—a separate part of the church where enslaves people could view the service—in place. “I knew I really wanted to do something in that space because of its significance. I wanted to honor the legacy of it,” keiyaA says. The result, produced in partnership with Abrons Art Center and ODA, is an entrancing visual, entitled A Meditation on the Spirit as Captive. This is the latest in a series of poignant projects for the Chicago-born singer, who recently starred in the short film Passage, created and written by Solange, and released her meditative album, Forever Ya Girl, in 2020.

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“It is she ! I transform when I wear her.”

Photo: Courtesy of KeiyaA

“My go-to wig.”

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Photo: Courtesy of KeiyaA

keiyaA’s pride in her community and her interest in preserving its stories shines through not only in her music and its visuals, but also in her beauty and hair choices. “Hair is a super important part of my self expression as an artist. Especially as a Black person performing, there’s a lot of cultural politics associated with our hair,” she says. The Brooklyn-based singer reclaims her narrative through experimentation. “I love to put a twist on traditional African styles, like purple box braids for example.”

KeiyaA’s earliest hair memories included getting relaxers around age three. “I didn’t really start thinking much about my hair until middle school, when I began also expressing myself through clothes,” she remembers. Then she started bleaching and dyeing her hair with blue, green, and purple kool-aid, for the “better color payoff” that came from the drink powder when it was mixed with conditioner. “I would try a lot of wild colors and patterns on my hair. I began seeing it as a way to express myself. But the relaxer became very troubling for me,” she adds.

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