Meet Zakiyyah, a Boston-raised singer, songwriter, activist and scholar, who just hit our WYSKy radar compliments of a “you should know” tip from 12-year-old Eva and her mom Kathy. Described as “the new face of hip-hop”, Zakiyyah is a classically trained vocalist, and has a degree in Political Science and Sociology from Wellesley College (2012). She just released the official music video for her empowering debut single, “Shades of Black: The Hip-Hopera”, so as her lyrics say… “Consume this opera mixed with rap.”

This song and video speak volumes about Zakiyyah’s unique blend of artistry and activism, so we wanted to know more about her. Here’s what we learned… before heading to Wellesley, Zakiyyah was Valedictorian of Boston Arts Academy where she majored in voice. Post-college, according to her site, “Zakiyyah continued her vocal studies at New England Conservatory and landed the lead role in an original musical entitled ‘This is Treatment’ soon after. In 2016, she spent a year pursuing her artistic and scholastic ambitions in Czech Republic, Thailand, South Africa, and Colombia, where she learned about music from around the world, and worked with local artists—including Grammy-nominated group Explosión Negra.”

Both through and beyond her vocal talents, which span the genres of Opera, Jazz, R&B, and Gospel, Zakiyyah’s activism is focused on racial justice, economic equality, gender equality and female empowerment. She serves as a trustee for the Free for All Concert Fund, “an organization charged with providing the necessary funding to make classical music accessible to the masses.” In 2013, while working as a writer in Public Relations at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Zakiyyah created “D.A.S.H. (Defensive Aids in Situations of Help), a women’s self-defense program that travels throughout Boston and neighboring cities.”

“Shades of Black: The Hip-Hopera” is the debut single from Zakiyyah’s upcoming debut album, African Import, which “promises to be a continuation of the distinctive excellence that propelled her artistry into the ground-breaking force that the world will soon cherish.”