By: Steven Harrison Photos by: Levi Guzman
When Lakeita Valon writes a song, she starts with a voice memo: singing, freestyling, exploring different melodies, experimenting with beats, and expressing herself in each recording.
“I want you to understand me through my music,” Valon says, “to feel how I felt when I wrote it.”
We’re treated to that raw authenticity and personality in the summery sounds of Lakeita’s recently released debut solo album, BPM: Verano. The assortment of smooth vocals, poetic interludes, and Latin-inspired beats introduces audiences to the musical prowess of Lakeita Valon as a one-woman-band.
And solo means solo. Valon performed, mixed, and mastered the entirety of the album herself, with a combination of songs written over the course of nearly two and a half years.
She released her first solo single, “Breathe,” in 2017. After solidifying a streamable presence online with another single thereafter, Valon decided it was time to pursue the release of a full-length album.
BPM: Verano is a delight of fun, warm tunes with contagious rhythms that you’ll inevitably bob your head to, whether it’s the catchy and clever crowd favorite “Pink Starburst” or the bilingual lyrical groove of “Leaves.” The worst part of the album is the realization that there isn’t yet another Lakeita Valon solo project to stumble upon once you’re a fan.
But there’s another album well on its way. Whereas she considers her debut genre electronic soul, Valon's looking to experiment with conscious rap over coffee shop vibes for the next one, drawing inspiration from artists Mos Def and Wu-Tang Clan, as well as local coffee shop Roasted.
“The last album was more of an introduction – very light, very playful,” Valon says. “This one’s gonna be very sexy, more conscious.”
“I’m gonna dig deeper than I did on the last album.”
Although her streamable solo presence is fairly new, she’s been writing music since she was 13. After high school, Valon moved from Katy, Texas to study music at TAMU-CC. It was in Corpus that her career began to take off, singing with funky local band Somethin’ Silky as well as her own, Venus Lily. Over time, she’s gone from being known as “the girl from Somethin’ Silky” to being recognized and remembered as her own musical force: Lakeita Valon.
Her first solo gig came accidentally when the Exchange looked to book her band for a show: the band wasn’t available, but Lakeita was. Before then, she hadn’t performed publicly on her own.
Lakeita’s live performances are even more engaging than her recordings; she wants audiences to enjoy listening to her as much as she enjoys performing, and with her stage presence and personality, it’s impossible not to.
“I don’t want my listeners to be scared,” Valon says. “If you’re gonna chill, then chill hard. If you’re gonna dance, then break it down!”
Despite her playful tone and lively demeanor, audiences should take her solo entrance to the music scene seriously. Her raw musical talent, creative ear, and extraordinary charisma make for an entertaining and refreshing listening experience through all her music. Listeners are left wanting more when they hear Lakeita Valon, and it’s a relief to know there’s more to come.