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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Dejah Monea

Courtesy of the artist

Most of us, at some point, have wanted to go back in time, if only for a moment, to send a message to the younger versions of ourselves, but Pittsburgh R&B artist Dejah Monea went one step further and wrote a song about it.

Dejah recently spoke with WYEP's Joey Spehar.

What’s your musical history up to this point?    

So, my first core music experience was being a part of a theater company called “ATC.” Starting in elementary school, I was introduced to 12 hour rehearsals, tech days, putting a production together, etc. While still a part of ATC, I enrolled into the Creative and Performing Arts School of Pittsburgh. That’s where I really gained the foundation for the skill of singing by having to learn things like classical music, music theory, and private intensives. I transitioned into a vocal performance major with a minor in music business at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia but ultimately ended up graduating from Point Park with a degree in Entertainment Management. Through all this I was performing all over the city, big and small shows promoting my first album "Flowers and Dopamine."

How do you describe your sound? 

I actually never get asked this, which is interesting! I would describe my sound as ethereal and warm with raw lyrics. There are influences from jazz, gospel, and R&B (of course). I’m very to the point when it comes to my music which I think matches well with the opposite softer tone.

Tell us more about the song "Younger Me." What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

So many things transpired from 2021-2023. From losing my dad to my sister, to graduating and falling in love. I realized I wasn’t writing from the same place anymore and I started to think, “What was the point?” If the things that kept me grounded and looking forward to the future are no longer here, why do it? So, I decided to draw it from myself specifically my younger self because I remember where I was mentally and to have overcome then I can overcome now. Younger me is an ode to my younger self, to the thoughts I had, pretty much an affirmation to her thus healing my present self.

What was the first album that really changed your life?   

Definitely "Acid Rap" by Chance the Rapper. That album resonated so much with me, especially where I was in life at the time. His cadences, changing up tones, and his bars really inspired me to experiment and be open about what I’m going through. "Acid Rap" is one of the very few albums I can listen to from start to finish, no skips. I used to do my homework to it, go to sleep to it, etc.

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

I love this question. I think Dehkewls is so underrated his music is better than most of the music out right now and he can perform really good, which is a plus.

Any other super interesting things about you we should know?   

Just that an EP is dropping very soon! I haven’t dropped a project since 2020 so I’m very excited for people to hear how I’ve evolved.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.