Cameroonian beauty Bijoux is stepping out on faith. She has been singing since a teen and has been an in-demand cover singer until recently venturing out to release original music. Her first single – “Go With It” – appeared on the Bike Rack Records Summer Mix Tape last year.
Earlier in 2020, Bijoux released the single, “Dit Moi,” which will be followed by the release of the full EP once the novel coronavirus decides to let us be great again. Bijoux is content to wait until the time is right.
“I’m a primarily a live artist…and I want to release my music at a live show,” she said. “I want to do months of rehearsals, build up the energy and do an amazing show. I wanna do the most (for my first album).”
She has a far-flung range of influences, including country, folks, classic rock, R&B and Makoosa, which is native to Cameroon and can be heard in “Dit Moi.”
“In Makoosa everyone follows the lead guitar and percussionist. They set the tempo of the sound. It’s very rhythm heavy.”
Makoosa was introduced to the West, unbeknownst to the vast majority of us, by way of Michael Jackson’s “mama say mama say mama coosa” lyrics. For the sake of comparison, Makoosa is very similar to the afrobeat and high life music made popular by African legends such as Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade.
She describes her soon-to-be-released EP as “alternative R&B. It’s like vibes, except if you’re almost 40 not almost 20. Kickback on the couch and drink a little brown on a Thursday night.”
The reception has been amazing, Bijoux said.
“When you do a cover, you bring your individuality to it. People stay if they like it and leave if they don’t. I never felt the full weight of people’s scrutiny until I got ready to release my own music.
“It means something to me that people liked my baby. It was validation I never knew I needed. People listened and reposted. And for a couple of weeks, my name was at the top of the Apple music results when I typed in ‘Bij!’”
Though she won’t admit it, Bijoux has natural talent that was nurtured by her mom, who is also a singer, and time spent in her school choirs. That was how she first came to realize that maybe just maybe she had a talent for this. She kept getting solos in the choir but didn’t relate it to talent until she was in college.
Like many immigrant children, the expectation is to become a doctor, nurse, engineer or lawyer. Nevertheless, she stepped into her passion and purpose and hasn’t looked back.
We talked about artistry and creativity during the pandemic. So many creators are creating, experiencing phenomenal growth and moving beyond their comfort zones. The new norm is forcing adjustments to thinking, process, goals and plans.
For Bijoux, the pandemic has made her stretch as an artist. She live-streamed a weekly 90-minute show for two months from her living room; 90-minutes!
In the absence of live/ticketed shows what can we do? How can we continue to support our faves and keep the music playing?
“Even in a pandemic, you can still support your favorite artists by streaming their music. It pushes our music to the top of the algorithm and gives us a dividend…eventually,” she answers.
“Tune to live performances, tell a friend, share a status. And you can always give to anybody’s ministry…hit my cashapp!”
Other than releasing the EP once we return to normal-ish times, what’s next?
Her next project will be a much more jazz-heavy project. Her muses are Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holliday.
“Straight ahead jazz is my favorite lane. Hands down, no contest,” she said.
Additionally, be on the lookout for several pre-recorded performances that will air at virtual festivals. Follow her on Instagram to stay up on the latest @iambijoux.
She is fabulous and her melanin is poppin (especially in the yellows she likes to wear) but so is her music. “Dit Moi” went immediately to my Riddums playlist. Listen to it here: https://spoti.fi/31gkAn0.
AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC APPRECIATION MONTH
In observance of African American Music Appreciation Month, The New Tri-State Defender is highlighting select Memphis-area artists throughout June. At month’s end, The TSD will present an edited video featuring one song from each featured artist. The finished product will be a hybrid mini-concert and extended multi-artist video. Stay tuned for the digital invite.