We hear a lot of stereotypes about Gen Z, but 21-year-old and self-described “old soul” HAWA seems to find outside herself most boxes that people try to put her in. HAWA was born in Berlin, but spent most of her early life growing up with family in Conakry, Guinea. At age 9, HAWA’s mother made her leave for New York to avoid being affected by the region’s deep-rooted inequities, like all the women in her family had generations prior. Nevertheless, she remains steadfast about her African identity.
At age 10, with no prior knowledge of classical music, HAWA received an opportunity to join a music composition program with the New York Philharmonic that marked the beginning chapter of her remarkable ascension. While many play their first shows to empty rooms in sparsely-filled clubs, HAWA’s immense aptitude for writing music allowed her to perform with the Philharmonic at prestigious institutions like the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
At 15, HAWA ended her time as the orchestra’s youngest ever composer to focus on her own sound. At 16, she scraped together a few cheap cables and a microphone intended for EA Sports video games and learned how to record her first tracks. About a year later, HAWA signed a deal with 4AD. After a series of successful singles, HAWA released her critically-acclaimed debut EP the ONE in March 2020. She takes pride in the fluidity of her own sound and enjoys when people can’t ascribe a singular genre, traversing effortlessly between rap, R&B, afrobeat and beyond.
HAWA ble født i Berlin, men vokste opp i Conakry, Nigeria fram til hun flyttet til New York som niåring. Året etter ble HAWA innrullert på et komponistprogram i regi av New York-filharmonien – starten på det som skulle vise seg å bli en formidabel karriere som allerede har gitt oss mye, til tross for at den så vidt er i gang.
HAWA sluttet i filharmonien som 15-åring, og begynte å eksperimentere med egen musikk som 16-åring. Ett år senere signerte hun med prestisjefylte 4AD (Big Thief, Erika de Casier, Tkay Maidza), og debut-EPen the One kom i mars 2020, med et spennende musikalsk unntrykk i skjæringspunktet mellom rap, R&B, afrobeat og forbi.