- 08 Jul 20
The Belfast-based neo-soul singer captured a slice of summer on her livestream supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
It felt like summer during Dena Anuk$a’s performance on the Hot Press Lockdown Sessions’ Y&E Series this Tuesday. Surrounded by plants and wearing a tan bucket hat, the Belfast-based neo-soul artist proved that an Instagram live with an audience stuck inside can be just as joyful as an outdoor concert on a warm night.
Anuk$a has a wide smile and talks like a therapist; it was partly her personal charisma that gave her performance sponsored by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht such great vibes. But the livestream's infectious energy primarily came from her music, which blends soul and R&B and savours positive themes: friendship, delicious food and Black liberation.
Anuk$a played played several songs from her debut EP, Honey and Cream. First up was ‘Wavey', a track that evokes Tierra Whack in its tight flow and off-kilter beat. Then came ‘Sweet Potato Fries’, for which Anuk$a invited her collaborator, Belfast singer-songwriter NAD, to join her on the stream. NAD showed off her nimble runs on the song’s chorus as Anuk$a delivered memorable bars such as “I’m sick of washing dishes in your perfect world.”
As the stream went on Anuk$a performed ‘Super Thighs’, ‘Shine’ and ‘Stay Blessed Stay Free’ — all fun and bouncy songs with a summery mood. But Anuk$a also emphasized summer 2020 is no ordinary season. Twenty minutes into the stream, she addressed her audience: “So let’s get serious for a second,” Anuk$a said, “during COVID, there’s a lot of things that have come to light — there’s a sexual revolution happening in Egypt right now, and Black lives matter.”
Anuk$a announced that she’s been working with Gxrl Code Belfast to organise an online concert for artists of color based in Belfast. She then played an untitled song she wrote for this concert. With a jazzy, fluid melody and powerful lyrics, the track proved one of the stream’s most memorable: “Rain before the sunshine / pain in the bloodline,” Anuk$a sang, stretching her voice to its soulful limit.
Check out Gxrl Code Belfast on their instagram and rewatch Dena Anuk$a’s concert on the Hot Press instagram below.