Entering a musical landscape brimming with a multitude of independent artists vying for virtual attention online can be a daunting task. But when your debut single “Roses” lands in the top 20 on the Billboard charts, trepidation fades away as success transitions from a dream into reality. The 24-year-old Los Angeles-based singer Annalé effortlessly combines elements of Neo-Soul, pop and R&B. With an eponymous debut album featuring the likes of 90s R&B icon Stokley Williams (of Mint Condition) and being touted by outlets such as SoulTracks, Bossip, and SingersRoom as a star on the rise, Annalé is set to make a major impact with her dynamic upcoming album with Mako Management.
Reared between New York City, South Korea and New Jersey, Annalé’s access to a wide array of cultural references would play an important role in shaping her musical journey. With an orchestral conductor as a father, she found herself perpetually surrounded by the sounds of classical music. At age four, Annalé began piano lessons at her mother’s academy. By the time she reached high school, she’d begun to hone her skills as a vocalist. In addition, this period marked a seismic shift in her musical tastes as they expanded exponentially with her exploration of R&B and Neo-Soul.
With the culmination of her experience in tow, the stars in her universe seemed all but aligned - pointing towards a promising career in music. Her parents, surprisingly, had reservations. “My parents were kind of opposed to it in the beginning,” laughs the songstress. “As musicians, they went down that path and knew how challenging it would be.” But when it was evident that Annalé’s heart was completely ensconced in a menagerie of lyrics and melodies, they relented. “Eventually, they just let me do what I wanted. They knew that’s what my passion was and that I had a gift for music.”
While at the prestigious Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, Annalé fortiﬁed her gift through formal instruction and side projects as an arranger and producer. “I liked the process of collaboration, so I did a lot of scoring and writing charts for string and horn arrangements on different projects.” she recalls of the experience. Conversely, however, Annalé was somewhat more reserved when it came to assuming the role of lead vocalist. “As a singer, I always loved performing and singing,” says Annalé. “I did vocal performances at Berklee. But I knew being an artist was a hard path, so I never dared to do it.” In order to fulﬁll her destiny, it was apparent that a breakthrough was in order.
In the meantime, Annalé immersed herself in a new phase of musical discovery. She retroactively mined the annals of early aughts music history and became enamored with the sounds of the neo-soul movement. “I didn’t really know about neo-soul until I got to Berklee. But once I found it, I fell in love with it.” Intoxicated by the retroﬁtted soul of artists like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Floetry, Dwele, Musiq Soulchild and fellow Berklee alum Lalah Hathaway, it became obvious to Annalé that this was her destiny calling. All she had to do was step into it. “I knew then and there that if I was going to pursue music as a solo artist, then this was the music I would do.”
Annalé continued to cultivate her musical chops and eventually relocated to Los Angeles upon completing her studies at Berklee. “When I came to LA, I was surrounded by so many singers and musicians. It really inspired me,” she says. It wasn't long before Annalé hit the ground running, performing and writing music with other creatives and kindred spirits. It wasn’t long before her talents began to resonate and be recognized beyond her circle of inﬂuence. She was approached by an independent record label Mako Management with the opportunity to fulﬁll an aspect of her destiny - the recording of her debut album.
Over the course of six months, Annalé recorded her self titled album in Los Angeles. Serving as co-writer and co-producer on many of the album’s 10 tracks, Annalé offers listeners a thematic journey through love in all its splendor. “A lot of the songs are about love and life lessons,” reﬂects Annalé. “When people listen to it, they’ll be able to hear stories they can relate to.” While the album’s tracks are largely in English, Annalé made an effort to connect with her Korean roots by including versions of two songs in Korean. “My music is urban at the core, but I felt it was important to be able to reach out to the Asian American community.”
The album’s lead single, “Roses,” is a smooth mid-tempo groove that ﬁnds Annalé crooning about the bittersweet end of a romance. “It’s a love story, but it’s a love in the past,” she explains. “Even though you might be sad and heartbroken, having the experience is better than not having it at all. The message is that it’s going to be ok. It’s good that you experienced it, but it’s also good that you’re out of it now.” The soulful effervescence of “Back Of My Hand” is fortiﬁed by vocal assist and production by none other than respected vocalist Stokley Williams of the hit 90s R&B group Mint Condition.
“It’s a pretty metaphorical song,” says Annalé of the duet. “But it gets to the heart of the matter. It’s about wanting to get to know someone very intimately. To foster a deep sense of closeness and familiarity.” Taking into consideration of her retroactive discovery of R&B and neo-soul, working with Williams was nothing short of a dream come true for her. “He’s an R&B legend,” she beams. “It was such an honor to even work with him.” The album also features the glistening ode “Daydream.” Embroidered with hints of acoustic guitar and ethereal synths, “Daydream” ﬂoats on a cloud of hopes and wishes for a make believe romance to be actualized. “It’s different lyrically,” says Annalé. “It’s literally imagining the ideal guy and all the things I’d want.”
As the R&B world patiently awaits the release of Annalé’s debut album, its response to “Roses” seems to indicate that anticipation is high. The song is currently at #19 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart in the company of songs by icons such as Alicia Keys, Usher and Maxwell - an amazing feat for a new independent artist. “I never thought my name would on the Billboard charts,” she says. “My ﬁrst song ever released to the public. It entered the chart at under #100. Then it went top 50. Then it went top 30. I thought it would stop there, but now it’s in the top 20 with all the artists I‘ve always looked up to and have been inﬂuenced by.”
It didn’t take long for respected online media outlets began to pick up on the buzz of the tune. SingersRoom called her a “gifted entertainer with an arsenal of musical talents” while SoulTracks called her a “singer and songwriter on the rise” with “a smooth gem.” Annalé’s journey thus far may seem like the makings of a fairy tale. But the journey was predicated on her faith in following a course charted in the stars. And while this is only the beginning of a promising career, it’s safe to say that the new album is wondrous sample of things to come.