Lessons from life in London inspire this singer to write empowering music for allJune 12, 2023 | By Deborah Lynn Blumberg
As a child, Young Athena sang along to the album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” while riding through London in her father’s car. When she hit a high-pitched note perfectly, he swerved. His daughter, he realized, had talent.
So he built her a home music studio, where she wrote her first song — “Be Who You Are”— at age 11. That song made its way onto the radio. And when people started singing the lyrics back to her, Young Athena says, “I knew that my future lay in music.”
Today, the 19-year-old R&B singer-songwriter draws on her life in London — including teaching gymnastics and a love of fashion — to make music that speaks to young women everywhere. She has so far released 10 singles, collaborated with many other artists, and had her music played by BBC Radio.
“Every song tells a story,” she says. “And just like a storybook, every story starts in a different place.”
Young Athena is one of five emerging artists who are chronicling their journey via the Mastercard Artist Accelerator, a program that teaches independent artists to harness the community-building power of blockchain, Web3 and the metaverse. Her latest single, the soulful anthem “No Money Boo,” was just released thanks to a connection made through the program.
The Web3 music-focused program is helping artists learn how to use blockchain and digital assets to build their brand and a loyal community of fans. They’re also experimenting with making music using emerging AI tools, including leading AI music technology from WarpSound, which Young Athena credits for inspiring her music-making process and expanding her way of thinking about the possibilities of creating music.
Young Athena, whose mother is an opera singer, developed a diverse musical palette early on. She listened to Public Enemy’s hip-hop, the soulful melodies of Beyoncé and opera legend Jessye Norman’s arias, and graduated from The BRIT School, the celebrated performing arts and creative high school whose alumnae include Adele, FKA Twigs and Leona Lewis.
Her childhood was filled with singing and dancing in talent shows, choirs and musicals, competing in synchronized swimming, and performing in competitive gymnastics, sometimes doing floor routines to music she created. “The joy of entertaining people was just something that came naturally to me,” she says.
As with many young artists, technology has always played a role in Young Athena’s life and career. She records her music on digital audio workstations and uses social media to connect to her fans, and even performed four nights a week on Instagram Live during the pandemic. Blockchain and Web3 offer Young Athena the potential to take her career to the next level.
Since joining the program, she has connected with mentors Brian Trunzo, the head of business development, North America, at Polygon Labs, to learn more about connecting with fans via Web3, and Nifè, a dancer and content creator, about building her brand identity.
“Connecting with fans is essential as an artist, and I always want to learn new and innovative ways to communicate with them,” she says. “My goal is to create songs that connect with the audience and allow them to take ownership, painting the soundscape to important moments in their life journey.”