This piece is part of the Greylists series: communities sharing the music that brings them together.
Sug Daniels seemingly does it all. She’s a singer, a songwriter, a producer, and she even makes videos on YouTube. But by far her greatest talent, and what ended up winning me over, is her vulnerability. Whether she’s singing about falling for a friend or speaking frankly about overcoming imposter syndrome, Daniels’s honesty elevates her work to something truly special. “Hey friend, I appreciate you,” she sings at the start of “Heavy,” and after spending a little time with Sug and her music, she really does start to feel like a friend.
Hailing from a rural town in Delaware, Daniels grew up immersed in the musical traditions of the Southern-Baptist church. After experiencing both the joys and crushing isolation that many LGBTQIA+ people experience in more traditionally conservative communities, she left the church but continued to pursue music, first in rap outfit FlowCity, and then in soul/rock band Hoochi Coochi. Now in 2021, Sug is beginning a new stage in her career by releasing her first music as a solo project.
With a sound that takes as much from Hawaiian music as it does from R&B and folk, Sug Daniels and her ukulele defy rigid categorization. “Kintsugi,” her latest single, released only last week, is named after the Japanese tradition of mending broken pottery with gold, and is proof that she can write as searingly about politics as she can about love. “You take money and leave me too tired to fight,” she sings, lambasting the cruel ways in which the American system treats Black women, before extending a hand, adding “but when you need me, I’ll be there.”
For her Greylist, Sug shared five songs by five women who inspire her.
1. “Why Don’t You,” Cleo Sol
2. “In a Good Way” Faye Webster
3. “Love All Night (Work All Day),” Yola
4. “Kiss Me More (feat. SZA),” Doja Cat
5. “Voodoo Woman,” Koko Taylor
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