June marks the start of Pride Month, and while you should definitely spin staples from Elton John, Lady Gaga, and Lil Nas X, here are 15 LGBTQIA+ artists who you might not know, but should also add to your playlist—during Pride Month, but really all year round. We’ve also linked to our own Pride Month Spotify playlist to make it even easier for you!
Anjimile Chithambo is a Boston-based indie rock singer/songwriter. His debut 2020 album Giver Taker was praised by Rolling Stone, NPR, and Pitchfork for radiating joy and pride, while also depicting his six-year journey of getting sober and stepping into his identity as a trans non-binary person. Inspired by Sufjan Stevens, Born Ruffians, and Iron and Wine, Anjimile is an artist to watch.
Listen to: “Baby No More” from the 2020 album Giver Taker
2. Sofia Fly
Sofia Fly is a DJ, producer, and poet from Toronto. In an interview with Yohomo, she sums up her musical style in three words: trippy, bouncy, sexy-boss-bitch-energy. She pairs her empowering lyrics with Latin beats, creating an irresistible party vibe: a must-listen for Pride Month celebrations.
Listen to: “Put in That Werk” from the 2020 album Fly Beats II Virgo Rising
3. Deb Never
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Deb Never combines hip-hop and grunge to create an ethereal, guitar-laden sound with a heavy synth-pad beat. Andrea Domanick of Fader says, “Publications have dubbed her emo-rap, and while her husky, mumbled cadence and raw lyrics bear some likeness to Zubin and Post Malone, there’s a nuance to her voice and a self-consciousness to her songwriting that paint a more complex picture.”
Listen to: Her 2021 single “Someone Else”
Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson met at the University of Southern California and formed the electronic pop trio MUNA. Their harmonies have been compared to HAIM, but offer a slightly edgier sound. Their song “Nihilist” appeared in the 2020 film Promising Young Woman, and they recently signed with Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory label.
Listen to: Their cover of Normani’s “Motivation”
5. Shea Diamond
Shea Diamond is a soul and R&B artist and trans activist. You may know her song, “I Am America” as the theme song for the HBO series We’re Here, which was also included on Billboard’s list of the best LGBTQ songs during 2020 Pride Month. The music video was produced in the midst of the pandemic and features activists and artists such as Alok Vaid-Menon, Jacob Tobia, and Justin Tranter. Tranter, who is a Berklee alum, signed Diamond to a record deal after hearing her acapella performance of “I Am Her” at a Trans Lives Matter rally. Learn more about Diamond’s story involving the foster care system and incarceration to better understand the depth of her art.
Listen to: Diamond’s 2020 single “I Am America”
6. Clear Mortifee
Clear Mortifee is a non-binary alt-R&B artist from Vancouver, Canada. Their 2020 album Medicines is smooth, ambient, and Erykah Badu-esque. This is on full display on their track “True Power,” which is a collaboration with DJ Pat Lok.
Listen to: “True Power” from the 2020 album Medicines
7. Meshell Ndegeocello
Credited with helping spark the neo-soul movement in the ‘90s, Meshell Ndegeocello is a bisexual Grammy-award winning legend whose music incorporates funk, soul, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, and rock. She’s one of the more seasoned acts on this list, but she’s proof that music, like fine wine, sometimes gets better with age.
Listen to: Ndegeocello’s cover of TLC’s “Waterfalls” from the 2018 album Ventriloquism
8. Teddy Geiger
A trajectory that began as a teen star, Geiger put all of that aside to become the singer, songwriter, and producer she is today. She has produced and written hundreds of songs for artists such as Shawn Mendes, One Direction, Lizzo, and many others. Her third album LillyAnna, produced under the name Teddy <3 or teddy, was praised by the New York Times, Billboard, and Rolling Stone.
Listen to: “Under the Blue” from the 2018 album LillyAnna
VINCINT is a Berklee graduate who appeared on the FOX music competition The Four. In an interview with Yahoo, he said, “My whole purpose of going on the show was to let little LGBTQ kids who look like me see that this is a possibility.” Born in Philadelphia, VINCINT’s father was a member of the Christ United Gospel Singers choir. Growing up surrounded by gospel music, VINCINT was encouraged to sing gospel, but firmly believed that pop music was his calling. His song “Be Me” was featured on season five of Queer Eye.
Listen to: His 2020 single “Save Myself”
Will Wiesenfeld, whose stage name is Baths, is an electronic musician from Los Angeles. His music has been praised by the BBC, Pitchfork, and the Guardian. In an interview with Kotaku, Wiesenfeld explained that his work is inspired by anime and video games saying, “Engagement with these other realms of stuff just keeps things very interesting for me and feels the most real because that’s where my passion is and where I feel the most at home.”
Listen to: His NPR Tiny Desk concert from 2013
11. Miya Folick
Miya Folick is a singer/songwriter based out of Los Angeles. Compared to Sinéad O’Connor, the Cranberries, and Tori Amos, her 2018 album garnered critical acclaim from publications such as Pitchfork, Paste, and NME, who wrote, “It’s a rare feat for an album to paint a picture that’s broad but intimate at the same time, but Folick has done it here. Her voice, songwriting, and ascent are unstoppable; one would do best not to ignore her.”
Listen to: The song “Premonitions” from the 2018 album of the same title.
12. Orville Peck
Peck’s identity is a mystery: he’s known for wearing a fringed mask to cover his face. His music is becoming less and less mysterious, as he’s made a name for himself in country music, with a voice reminiscent of crooners like Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and Elvis. With the release of his praised 2019 debut album, Pony, and 2020 EP, Show Pony, Peck grabbed the attention of nearly every prominent music news outlet, and even collaborated with Shania Twain and Trixie Mattel.
In an interview with NPR, he explains that by remaining a mystery, his audience is able to get lost in the story: “By holding back maybe just a little bit or allowing some mystery or some adventure into it, it allows them to also, you know, find their place within it as well. And I think that’s so cool.”
Listen to: His 2020 single “No Glory in the West”
13. Vardaan Arora
Vardaan Arora is an Indian-born recording artist, songwriter, and actor based in New York. Growing up with little representation in India, Arora uses his platform to advocate for more queer people of Asian descent in entertainment. In an interview with Pride, he said, “I just want people of color to see that being queer in addition to being a racial minority is what makes their identity stronger and more unique. Hopefully, I can set an example.”
Listen to: His 2020 single “I Don’t Wanna Know”
14. Sarah Walk
Sarah Walk is a pop singer/songwriter from Chicago. She also happens to be a graduate of Berklee’s Songwriting program. Walk released her sophomore album last year, which she says in an interview with Pop Matters addresses, “…being marginalized, being a woman, learning how to set boundaries without apology and being confident without feeling guilty for it.”
Listen to: Her 2021 single “Secrets”
Kimmortal is a Filipino-Canadian hip-hop artist who identifies as queer and non-binary. Their lyrics are unapologetic and unwavering in support for civil rights, especially for queer Asian and Indigenous people. In an interview with Cut From Steel, they say, “Being queer, non-binary and brown as well as non-Black and a non-indigenous settler on stolen land are facts to keep in mind when framing my story in a system that consciously disenfranchises certain communities. Basically, we’re all connected in this process. I have experiences of privilege and oppression but it’s all in relation.”
Listen to: “Sad Femme Club” from their 2019 X Marks the Swirl
Listen to all 15 of these songs on Berklee Online’s Pride Month Spotify playlist.
Special thanks to Berklee Online Applicant Advisor Fred Saberi for his recommendations.