Making music and engaging in social and political activism are essential equals for Brisa Lauren, who thrives once again as a singer-songwriter and dedicated champion of equality.
“They go hand in hand for me,” said the San Diego native, who is the statewide director of civic engagement for United Domestic Workers and a 2021 San Diego Music Awards nominee.
“For me, it is very important that everything I do has an intention and that my values, my morals and my principles are reflected in my art and whatever I devote my energy to.”
Music predated activism by nearly two decades for the 33-year-old singer-songwriter. The daughter of a black father and a Latina mother, Lauren grew up in North Park and Mira Mesa.
She started performing in choirs as a child and immediately felt comfortable in the spotlight. Through her father’s work as a freelance music producer, Lauren has been able to observe R&B recording sessions here firsthand. Her epiphany came in 2004 when she heard Lauryn Hill’s debut solo album in 1998, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”.
“I was 16 and had been on stage for years, but never wrote my own songs until I heard ‘Miseducation’,” recalls Lauren, who doesn’t use her name. complete, Brisa Lauren Johnson, for her musical activities.
“Lauryn Hill’s words and the rawness of what she said, in addition to her voice and live instrumentation, really inspired me to use music as a form of common expression. Of course when I started my songs weren’t extremely mature. But then I started to work with different rhyme structures, melodies and harmonies.
From 2014 until last year, Lauren was part of the San Diego band led by Kendrick Dial, The Lyrical Groove, which won a 2013 San Diego Music Award in the Best Hip-Hop category. She released her first accomplished solo album, “In Her Stillness”, last November.
“The coronavirus pandemic slowed us down and The Lyrical Groove had to cancel the shows we had booked,” Lauren said.
“But I had already worked on a solo project and I was finally looking to release my songs and create my own vision. So when our concerts were canceled, it gave me more energy to devote my time to my first solo project Once that came out I realized that I really enjoyed being the architect of my own sound and my own art.
Her interest in social and political issues began in 2010 when she was a student at Mesa College. Lauren was pregnant at the time of her son, Josiah, now 11 years old.
“I decided to take a class called ‘The Black Family,’ and it opened my mind to the truth about my black history that the K-12 school system didn’t teach me,” she remembers.
“I decided to take every black studies course I could, including a course called ‘Black Politics,’ and accidentally ended up getting an associate’s degree in African American / Black Studies. “
Lauren enrolled at Point Loma Nazarene University in 2012, a year before she began working as a community outreach organizer for United Domestic Workers. She received her BA in Political Science from PLNU in 2014. From 2015 to 2017, Lauren was civic engagement manager for Alliance San Diego, a community empowerment organization that promotes justice and social change by building coalitions .
She became the Director of Statewide Civic Engagement for United Domestic Workers in 2017. In August, Lauren will become the Director of the brand new San Diego Black Workers Center. On August 24, she will make her public debut as a solo artist at this year’s edition of the San Diego Music Awards at the Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. She is nominated in the category Best R&B, Funk or Soul album.
“San Diego has given me so much, and now I’m raising my own family here. So being recognized and nominated for this award means a lot to me because this is my home, ”Lauren said. “Music is liberation for me. It’s a way of breathing that lights the fire so that I go the next day and do the job that I’m doing.
“I believe that music and art have long been used as props of social and political movements. Cinema, music, poetry, painting, dance, theater are do not Cultural “accessories”. They are anchors. They motivate people to change their perspectives and ideologies, to open their minds and to sow the seeds of positive change.
“That’s why I want everything I do to have a purpose rooted in something that’s genuine to me. “
Profession: Musician and community organizer
Place of birth: San Diego
First group: The Lyric Groove (2014-2020)
Education: Associate Degree in African American / Black Studies from Mesa College (2012), Bachelor of Political Science and Government from Point Loma Nazarene University (2014)
First solo album: “In his calm” (2020)
Early start: Her passion for the stage started at the age of 3 and started singing “The Little Mermaid” as she swung her arms and rocked her hair. “That’s when my family knew I wanted to be a singer.”
And after: Public debut as a solo artist at the San Diego Music Awards on August 24