“As an artist, it’s important to stay consistent,” said singer and rapper Ifeanyi Elswith.
She has remained consistent, maintaining a love of music since she was a young girl and cultivating her artistry by the time she was a preteen. The results of this can be heard on releases like 2020’s “Everything Festyle,” or new tracks like 2022’s “Hold You,” featuring her friend and collaborator Wren.
“Ever since I could remember, I just knew that I had a gift of being able to sing,” Elswith recalled. “My earliest memory is of a woman on stage. I don’t know if it was Beyoncé or Mariah Carey. But I know it was one or the other. And I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”
Elswith grew up in a musical home, which she said directly influenced why and how she makes music. Ella’s parents are both from Belize and her father de ella came to Chicago to attend Columbia College for radio broadcasting. Her older sister de ella, who she considers a second mother, influenced her taste de ella in music and style of singing by frequently playing music by artists like Amerie, Brandy and Selena, among others.
By the age of 13, she was interested in studying vocal performance, partially inspired by the popular Nickelodeon television show “Victorious.”
It was her love of poetry, evident in the present day through songs like “Standing in My Garden” and “Mission,” that helped unleash Elswith’s burgeoning artistry.
Her first poem, written about Trayvon Martin, later led to slam poetry, spoken word and the local Louder Than a Bomb youth poetry slam competitions. Since writing her first song by Ella in 2017, she has spent the last five years performing throughout the city, building a fan base interested in her wide-ranging style of R&B.
Fans can tap into her debut album, “Everything Festyle,” available on streaming platforms.
The seven-track record clocks in at just under 24 minutes, but it’s a strong introduction to Elswith’s music, which combines elements of soul and hip-hop for a warm, easy, charming listen that feels rooted in sounds of the near-past. Elswith describes the tracks as a compilation of the first batch of songs she’s ever written, which is surprising given that the record invokes levels of level of depth and maturity far beyond her 23 years.
“I can talk about pain, and I talk about these things in life that are not pretty. Just the troubles in life or just like my trials and tribulations, I can talk about that without sounding depressing, without making it more of like a heavy thing, ”Elswith said about her lyricism and music de ella. “I know how to transcend my pain into something positive, into an experience that people can learn from, or that they can just relate.”