LIBIANCA IS THE HEIR TO THE THRONE OF AFRO-R&B

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As the proud owner of one of the most globally viral songs in the world, Cameroonian-American singer Libianca is the next queen of R&B-Afrobeats. ‘People’ released in early December and has already amassed nearly 80 million streams on Spotify alone, and an extra 17 million views on the music video. She wrote the ballad as she was dealing with Cyclothymia, a mood disorder that Libianca had been diagnosed with.

But who is she – and why the hype?

The abnormal popularity of ‘People’ may give the indication of overnight success. It’s a smash. But overnight is the exact opposite of Libianca’s story. As she manoeuvred between Cameroon and the States as a child, music was always playing. She knew it would be her life. So, she began writing music at around 10 years old, and signed a local record deal roughly 5 years later.

Alongside with her family, she always knew she was destined for greatness and in many ways, she’s the chosen one. But timing wasn’t in her hands. Growing frustrated, she attempted to speed up the protest by auditioning for The Voice in 2021. She advanced deep into the competition, and was famously coached by Blake Shelton which at the time was met with confusion. But due to vocal similarities it was a mentorship that would prove to be extremely fruitful, and a respectable top 20 place was secured.

Fast forward roughly 16 months, and ‘People’ is one of, if not the most, rapidly growing songs on the planet. She’s a recent signee to 5k Records and RCA Records, ran by one of the most prolific producers in the world, JAE5. For now, the 22-year-old is riding the success of ‘People’, and moving forward with a newfound fanbase itching for more music, remixes, and new collaborations.

Here, Libianca speaks to AUD’$ about her upbringing, pivotal moments along the way, and future plans.

(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity).

First of all, congratulations on ‘People’. But I want to take it back to the very start. I read that you moved back and forth between Cameroon and the States when you were younger. Tell me more about your childhood, and what it was like.
My childhood was very playful but at the same time very serious. Every time I think about it, man, its a lot of smiles that come out because there was the discipline, but there was also the fun times. So you get to learn as you play. But I would say, in my opinion, I had the perfect childhood, because I got to experience different cultures and I got to have the opportunity to pick and choose what I wanted to stick with me as I grew older.

I read about the babysitter story from Rolling Stone. I want to know if there were any other early musical memories that come to mind.
I remember being in the car with my older cousin and he would be playing ‘Heaven Sent’ by Keyshia Cole. He would be playing like Chris Brown, playing Rihanna, and just a bunch of R&B. I would just be sitting in the car, in the passenger seat just vibing. I would just be having a good time looking out the window and telling him what snacks I want, and he’s like, “Okay don’t worry, I got you, I got you.” I don’t know why, but those type of memories just hold a place in my heart because I was a kid at the time, and that was a really good memory. Also, cleaning the house on Saturdays and Sundays – that’s a day that is set for everyone to clean, so the music is just booming through the walls of the house. I definitely remember that. There was a lot of P-Square playing in the living room, there was a lot of R&B as well.

When you were younger, I know you started to write when you were about 10 or 11. Do you remember a defining moment where you decided you wanted to take music seriously?
Let’s see. That was very early on. When I was in boarding school, right before I started writing songs, I decided, “You know what? I think I can do this. I can be a musician, I can wear a big shiny dress and be in front of a bunch of people. I think I can do it!”. And then the older I got, the more passionate I got about it. So, by the time I had moved to the States, I was very adamant about being a musician and what type of music I would be putting out to the world. Like I want to make some type of change, you know? I wanna help in some kind of way, I don’t just wanna release music.

One of my favourite songs you’ve made is ‘Thank You’. Can you tell me about how your family has played a role in your success so far?
Oh my goodness! My family has dealt with me. I’m not an easy girl to deal with. I’m very emotional and I can be dramatic. I can be a lot, but my family just loves me the way I am. And sometimes, thats just all I need. I don’t need anything extra, I just need to know there’s a place in this world where I can come to and I won’t be judged. And I won’t be getting shit from everybody for being myself. I can come and just lay on my moms chest and cry if I’m stressed out or I can’t pay my bills. If things are going south, I know that they’re there. Even while I grew up in the house, it was a very good environment to grow my talent, because they were all very supportive.

My favourite line on that song is when you said “because of you, my light will keep on shining”. Since you’ve said that line (in 2021), what has their reaction been to your success?
My brother cried when he found out that I signed, and when he saw what the track (‘People’) was doing, and how people were reacting, he just burst into tears. And that was the first time I had seen him cry in 10 years, so that was a very emotional moment. My Mom, Dad, my sister, and brother were like “it’s about time!”. We knew it was gonna happen, we just didn’t know when.

Fast-forward to 2 years ago, you go on The Voice. You’ve talked about your story on the show, and I read about how you felt, and why you chose to go with Blake Shelton. But I wanted to know about what led you to audition in the first place?
I was just tired of being in the same place. I needed something that was going to push the ball of my career a little bit. It was getting a little repetitive, I needed more than what I had. I saw an ad for the auditions and since they were right now, I thought, “cool, let me see what happens.” So I went ahead and did it. It might have been a little impulsive at the time, but it was very much needed because I was gonna lose my mind if I didn’t take a few steps forward in my career.

What’s one thing you took away from being a contestant?
I learnt that I can do a lot of things. I am flexible to grow in ways I didn’t even think was possible at the time. I got to learn how creative I am and just how I can grow every single day. I will never be bored. When it comes to music, I will never be bored.

Now it’s late 2022, you drop ‘People’. Early 2023, it takes off. I read the story about what led you to record the song. When you left the studio that night, did you ever think it would be as big as it is now?
Absolutely not! I thought it would just be another snippet I post on my TikTok, and it’ll probably max out at 100k views. That was my highest viewed TikTok at the time. So, it was a shock.

And now what is it? 75 million on Spotify?
That’s a huge jump. It wasn’t what I expected at all. I just kept getting shocked every day.

I checked it a couple days ago and I swear it was at around 68 or 69 million, and already it’s jumped up by a crazy amount.
It’s mind-boggling. There’s more people, and more people, and more people, and more people discovering the song, and more people falling in love with it even now. It really gets me speechless sometimes but at the end of the day, I’m so grateful that I’m able to help so many people in some way.

I saw that some of your idols when you were younger were people like WizKid and Charlotte Dipanda. You’re in a space now where working with people like that isn’t entirely unrealistic at all. Is there anything exciting happening? Any exclusives?
Is this what you guys do? You guys ask about exclusives?

I’m just asking a question!
Well, I can’t really put out anything. But what I do have to say is the the remixes will shock you. I don’t know how else to put it. I don’t want to spoil it, but the remixes to ‘People’ are very hot. Apart from that, I’m currently working in the studio with some artists, so that’s really good.

I’m sure travelling is on the agenda for you sometime soon. Do you know anything about Australia?
Oh yeah. What I do know is that I like to travel, so either way I will love it, and will get to meet people who love me too. I like adventures, and that makes Australia at the top of my list, cause I’ve never been.

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