There's a kindness at the center of Tasha Viets-Vanlear's music. The 24-year-old Chicagoan, who performs understated and spoken world-inflected soul songs as Tasha, sings with a sincerity that's both disarming and inviting. Her debut EP 2016's Divine Love covered similar emotional and sonic territory as her peers like Jamila Woods' Heavn and Saba's Bucket List Project efforts that had a warmth radiating throughout that dealt with childhood, self-empowerment, and being black in one of the country's most segregated cities. Her new song "Lullaby," which Noisey is premiering above, covers comparable ground but it might be her most resonant yet.
Anchored by a hypnotically looping guitar chord, she sings, "Black girl / we'll leave this fight to someone else for now / you can close your eyes, let your hair down." True to its title, the song shines in its slow but never meandering pace with Tasha's reassuring voice and patient songwriting demanding thoughtful attention. Later in the track she comfortingly sings, "Your life is precious / And you'll be all right / Let's lay down for a while / They'll be just fine." Over coffee at a North Side Chicago cafe, she tells me the song's genesis, "It was some night when I was at home by myself and I was just playing around on guitar. I wrote the simple part, which in the song is the same thing over and over again. It always feels like a copout but it really did come to me really easily and I wrote it all in one sitting."
Tasha explains that "Lullaby" is a meditation on taking a step back in the face of daunting obstacles and allowing time to rest, an anthem for black girls. "I wrote this because it was what I needed to hear at that moment for myself. I was feeling very exhausted," she says. "It's always a really hard time in the world for black people right now because there's always something but that time in particular, I was feeling a little hopeless and depleted.This song was what I needed to tell myself that it was going be OK and that it's OK to rest." An activist in Chicago who works with local organizations like BYP 100, Young Chicago Authors, and Vinyl For A Cause, when Tasha sings, "You don't always have to be the one to save the world" it's a message for her as much as other black girls.
If the song itself isn't moving enough, its video sure is. Directed by Tom Callahan and Serena Violet Hodges, the simple black and white clip follows a girl's day after coming from school. Tasha explains, "The main girl in the video, Noah, her family are close friends of mine. I still babysit them and we all live in the same neighborhood." It's a surprisingly moving visual, showcasing a sweet, nostalgic, and innocent day-in-the-life over Tasha's calming message of encourage. Watch it at the top of the page.
Tasha is working on her follow-up to the Divine Love EP.