You’ve probably heard ‘Say Yeah’ by now but you’ve never heard it like this.
Mnelia has had an amazing 2020 and it was all kicked off by ‘Say Yeah’. The track is on well over 4 million streams on Spotify alone and has just passed the milestone of a million views on YouTube. The original brought some real nostalgia through the way it perfectly captured the essence of the 90s and 00s R&B sound without feeling dated. Whilst it was an unequivocal hit one thing that may have been overlooked is Mnelia‘s vocal ability. On this acoustic version, she cements that her vocal ability can have her sitting with the best of the best in the genre whether delivering powerful awe-inspiring performances or more measured playful records as evidenced on the original.
Music however wasn’t always at the forefront of Mnelia‘s mind as a career. Whilst she grew up in a household where it was her dad that had the biggest influence on her musical inquisitiveness, she at a time wanted to be a UN peacekeeper. Luckily for us whilst at school the only lessons that really had her interested were Music and French. With encouragement from her teacher, Miss Greenrod, Mnelia pushed on with singing and even got herself to a grade 8 in Piano. She went on to push her artistry relentlessly inspired by greats like Mary J Blige, Brandy, and even Jay Z all of which continue to inspire her journey of developing her sound.
The acoustic ‘Say Yeah’ is a testament to all of those influences and what has clearly been more than 10,000 hours of work. With her vocal dexterity on full show on the acoustic version the track takes on a new personality. Where the original of ‘Say Yeah’ is a bad bitch anthem for the clubs the acoustic brings it from savage to soft. But that only goes to highlight the duality of being able to do both and how whether delivered with a slight vulnerability or supreme confidence the bad b message is the same and valid with either delivery.
Being a woman in the industry is hard, being a dark-skinned Black woman makes the difficulty even more pronounced and often leads to pigeonholing. Some would play into the industry expectations but Mnelia matches her musical message of female empowerment and confidence by being an exemplar of what Black women can do if you just leave them to be exactly who they are. Displaying versatility and boldness Mnelia has the real potential to be a great. ‘Say Yeah’ strongly affirmed her position as somebody that needed to be given her flowers and she is only going to get better as time goes on.
Photo credits: Terry Paul