Gabrielle B. Soulful Intentions
Intentionality may seem antithetical to the emotions—the latter are typically the bread and butter of soul music. We tend to think of emotions as uncontrollable or overwhelming—feelings take hold of us, not the other way around—but in Gabrielle B.’s neo-soul music, it is exactly her emotional control and focus that charge her songs as she peels back the layers of love.
The Oklahoma City singer released her first EP in 2016. She followed it with Shift in 2017. The 7-track album was named Best Album by LineUp OKC’s Oklahoma Hip-Hop awards. Her last EP, Feel Something was released in 2019.
B. has a book of mantras to her name as well as three EPs. “Anything that you say has the possibility of coming to fruition,” B. said.
“When it comes to the similarities between writing a mantra and writing a song, it’s very intentional,” B. explained. “Like ‘What am I?’, ‘What is the purpose behind the words that I’m saying.’.... it’s all about intention for me.”
Her intentions are usually focused on one topic in particular: “I love love songs,” B. said. “I always come from a place of love whether it’s heartbreak or making up. This year, I've been tapping more into self love—loving yourself, loving others, sharing that love—that is kind of my niche. Love is just a natural feeling for a lot of us. It’s fun to explore because it’s never just one-sided—there are so many other layers to it.”
B. writes about all kinds of love. Her early song “Well Wishes'' deals in the messy business of parting peacefully with a lover. “Only time will tell/I wish you well,” B. sings resolutely.
In “Free Again” B. meditates on trust as an internal and external practice. As she sings “I’m putting my trust in you/I’m finally trusting you/because I finally trust myself,” it feels almost like a mantra. The more she says it, the more her trust grows and swells with the notes. Listeners are taken up on the wings of her silky voice, and lifted by the simple rhythm. It’s not hard to understand why B. recalled feeling free as she recorded this song.
“Easy” is simple and pure. It perfectly captures the joy of love coming easy. “Don’t think I ever have found it this easy to breathe” B. sings, almost in a sigh.
Her latest single, “Trying to Forget,” features Bairi. It was recorded cross-country with Bairi in New Jersey and B. in L.A. To make the music video, the director flew from New York to L.A. and back. In some ways “Trying to Forget” is a thematic reversal of “Well Wishes” — in the two songs, recorded years apart, B. captures the pain and possibilities of parting.
B.’s expressiveness came late for her. As a child, B. was shy. “I was a very quiet child,” B. recalled. “I didn’t really say much, or know how to express myself. But when I got into songwriting I was like okay so this is how I’m really going to tell my story.”
Songwriting gave her a vehicle for expression, and moving gave her the confidence to open up to an audience. B.’s musical career began when she moved to Houston to continue pursuing a nursing degree. While she was there, she bought her first mic and recording equipment.
“I didn’t think it was until I moved to Houston that my eyes really opened up to all the other possibilities,” B. said. “Not even just for music, but for me as a person to grow.”
Invigorated by a world of possibilities B. came into her own as a singer and started work on her first EP. She’s been at it ever since.
Since living in Houston, she’s been back to OKC, spent a year in NYC, and now lives in L.A. B. views each move as a turning point in her music. She is transformed with each new landscape. Now, she views the music she produced in each place as a timestamp.
“Each project means something different to me,” she said. “I’m always in a different head space, sometimes a whole different place. I just think that every time I decide to make that leap, to take that leap of faith, something beautiful happens.”
B. is now taking a different sort of leap of faith. The self-recorded, self-written, self-driven artist is looking for a team to support her. She’s already working with a producer.
As she looks ahead to building a full length album, a purposeful spirit and a deep commitment to personal and musical growth drive this effort.
“This year I’m definitely tapping more into other outlets as far as how I can make my vision even bigger and just expand it,” she said. “Because as much as I try to do everything by myself, it’s just not possible.”
B. is releasing new music later this month. Follow her on Instagram @iamgabrielleb and on Spotify Gabrielle B.
Stay up to date with the latest: You can hear B. featured on "Crush" by Duane Something by clicking here.
Watch the music video B. is featured in for the song "Solana" by Oklahoma City artist, Slyrex below.