A singer-songwriter from West Memphis, Arkansas, Yebba is a vocal powerhouse. With her knack for haunting vocal runs and emotional vibrato, alongside collaborations with artists such as Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, it’s a wonder that Yebba is just now gaining widespread popularity. Like many fans, I first caught wind of Yebba’s musical genius after a live performance of her song “My Mind” went viral on YouTube in 2016. A heart-wrenching plea to an unfaithful lover, “My Mind” presented Yebba as a once in a lifetime artist; I bawled the first time I watched her sing, transfixed by her vocal crescendos and lyrical candidness, and still tear up every time she chants “No way, no way, she can’t take you away from me. I sure won’t stay, but I’ll be damned if I ever leave.”
Although “My Mind” helped Yebba gain traction in the music industry, her mother died of suicide just three weeks later and brought her budding career to a halt. She stepped away from the public eye to grieve and grapple with her mother’s loss, eventually releasing her first single, “Evergreen”, in late 2017. “Evergreen” manifests as a sort of musical epitaph; Yebba’s voice cries as she sings “Will you wait for me, my evergreen? I know it’s just as hard in heaven,” memorializing her mother through lyrical imagery and chord progressions. “Evergreen” is a beautiful tribute, a public recognition of just how much her mother meant to her, and Yebba offered it to audiences for free. In return, she requested that fans seeking to financially support her work donate to Bring Change to Mind, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health, and to raising awareness, understanding, and empathy.”
Following the release of “Evergreen”, Yebba spent four years working on her first album, a breathtaking compilation called “Dawn” that debuted on September 10, 2021. “Dawn” delivers every ounce of Yebba’s artistic talent; her voice triumphs over synth and guitar tracks, navigating grief with raw courage and emotional integrity. In “Boomerang”, she pairs upbeat instrumentation with piercing lyrics, belting “Don’t forget your pride, it’s laying in her bed of sorrow.” In “October Sky,” she allows her voice to dance around a skeletal guitar track, weaving a portrait of her mother from memories. She sings, “There’s a picture of us in a layer of dust, on the mantle right by my cigarettes that I smoke since you left, ‘cause you said you had to fly in your October sky.” Each song in “Dawn” resonates as a microcosm of emotion, a powerful testament to both the gift of memory and the pain of grief. I doubt I will ever encounter another musician with Yebba’s rare and refined artistry and recommend listening to “Dawn”, all the way through, the first chance you get. I promise you won’t regret it.