We recently had the opportunity to chat with multi-talented artist Bri Hall, or La Hara, whose new single, “Mindful,” is out now. We spoke about the new track, her involvement in humanitarian relief, her TED Talk and more. Check it out below!
You just released your new singles, “Mindful” and “Unlawful.” Tell us a little bit about the tracks and what they mean to you.
For me, the tracks “Mindful” and “Unlawful” mean bravery. On my YouTube channel, I’ve spoken a lot over the years about how being fearless in your pursuit of your best self leads to the greatest happiness you’ll ever know. To really take a melody I hummed in my head, mix it with poetry I’ve had written for a while, and perform it in a studio in front of others feels like the greatest form of courage to me. Both songs also show a more vulnerable side of me.
I’ve learned from a lot of reading and motivational speeches. It’s not about how much you disclose; it’s going for it, no matter what the outcome may be. I find being candid really easy, but music and art are so vulnerable because you can start with an idea and finish with something completely different as more ideas come.
Your real name is Bri Hall, but your alter ego is La Hara. What inspired the name?
The alter ego, La Hara, is based on me as an artist behind the mask we have to wear sometimes in the beauty community. I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit in my life and it inspires a great deal of my artwork. Honestly, some of the hardest stuff became my best work! That’s why I love art and music—because it’s one of the few times I feel like I can fully show myself.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with going to the bookstore and just reading as much as possible, then leaving without buying anything. During that time, one of my favorite artists became Basquiat. He wasn’t afraid to be different, and he openly expresses what it’s like to be a black man and an artist in this world synonymously. La Hara is one of my favorite Basquiat paintings.
Community service is extremely important to you. You recently traveled to Ethiopia to hand deliver school supplies, prenatal vitamins and infant care. Can you share with us a bit about your experience there?
Going to Ethiopia was mad life-changing! Growing up, I felt like our school system made it a mission for black children not to feel any connection to our own roots or even make us scared of them. We never delved deep into Africa during world history, but we definitely made sure to talk about the slave trade in US history. I said in a recent video, “How are you going to tell us the most graphic part of our story but leave out all of the flavor and beauty?”
In Ethiopia was the first time I got to witness black people whose features were untouched by colonization. I mean, everyone literally looked so beautiful. I shed a few tears there because, although I heard stories of hardship—there was this different energy, this undeniable fight to survive and be a community.
I think one of the coolest things was I didn’t experience seeing toxic masculinity. I saw men holding hands, walking down the street simply because they were friends. Brothers who were 10 years old would kiss each other’s forehead or cheek to show their love for family. I got the chance to volunteer at some amazing non-profit grassroots organizations doing some great work in the community. All the food I ate was organic so I lost weight there even though I was eating big meals daily. I can’t wait to go back again!
What do you hope fans and listeners take away from your music?
I hope that the people who have anything in their heart that relates to my music use it as a tool of comfort, deep thoughts and peace. I know how I feel listening to a good song late at night driving down the road, and if I can just give that feeling of a few moments of ease to my listeners, then I would have been successful.
Can we expect to hear more new music from you this year?
Absolutely! I’ve been working on a lot of music. What I really like about my upcoming tracks and the ones I released thus far is the overwhelming feedback that I receive where people say, “Nothing sounds the same, but everything fits together perfectly.” I want my listeners to have a diverse experience going from song to song.
In 2018, you gave a Ted Talk called “Just Give Up. It’s for the Best.” How did the process of giving that TedTalk come about?
I had the worst writer’s block before my Ted Talk. That was freedom I had never had before. I’ve always had so much to say to the world, but when someone tells you that you have 15 minutes to say whatever you want about anything you want, the possibilities are truly endless.
One day I just flashed back to a day when I was working retail to help with college bills, and a lady called me out of my name and a racial slur. Instantly, the entire talk idea came to me. What if I spoke about how it feels when you’re not in alignment with your true calling and the importance of giving up things that do not serve you? Some of the staff actually came to me in tears backstage after the talk and said it’s exactly what they needed to hear.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you collaborate with and why?
When I say I probably have the longest list of artists I would love to collaborate with, I truly do. Right now, I would say Masego because he encouraged me as a friend when I was just starting out. His music is amazing!
What are some of your hobbies apart from music and philanthropy?
I used to be an avid tennis player. When it’s warm enough outside, I still like to go out and just hit some shots for fun. I have been drawing since I was younger, so I love making digital portraits! I like reading a lot, too. Knowledge just feels like something that can’t be taken from you.
Do you have any upcoming shows or tours that fans can keep an eye out for?
I have my first upcoming show in D.C. coming up for the Bungalow Festival and I’m excited for it, especially since it’s in an area that really helped shape my life growing up.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we might not have touched on?
Make sure to vote and stay active. We’re in really spooky times socially and politically. It’s up to us to get involved and be the change we wish to see.
Featured Image: @KristopherSlens