Baltimore singer and songwriter brings her buzzworthy R&B to Columbus for the first time
On Baltimore musician Beya Likhari's summer single “Lovebug,” underwater synthesizers fade in and out alongside stutter-stop beats as Likhari describes the welcome bite of a Cupid-like insect. Elsewhere in the up-and-coming R&B singer's catalog, a repeating, Spanish-style guitar lick provides a discomfiting bed for Likhari's silky-smooth vocals on the VHS-produced “Bad Dream.”
“I am Indian, and my family moved to the States shortly before I was born. So, growing up, a lot of what I listened to was full of heavy bass and intricate instrumentation. I like to think that I bring a bit of that into my own music,” Likhari said recently by e-mail. “I grew up listening to all kinds of music — classical music, Bollywood/Punjabi music, country. My family is pretty artistic, so they have been pretty instrumental in teaching my sister and I how to think outside the box.”
Likhari will bring her multitude of influences to town as part of the sixth volume of The Wicked + The Divine, taking place at the Summit on Thursday, Oct. 26, along with singer/songwriter/producer Pinky Liberachi from Lexington, Kentucky, and local rappers TrigNO and Dom Deshawn, who organized the event. For the past two years, W+D has consistently celebrated local artists and lured to Columbus on-the-rise national performers who may not have otherwise visited.
This show, for instance, marks Likhari's first time playing Columbus. Back home, since her very first nerve-racking show at Baltimore underground event Lucid Cupid, Likhari said her local scene has helped to cultivate and incubate her music. “My friends are some of the most talented people I know, and a lot of the time we just sit and talk about concepts that we're exploring for future projects. That energy from our conversations sort of manifests itself, and everyone just goes back to their rabbit hole to write and get even more creative,” she said. “The scene is super underground and has a sort of ebb and flow to it.”
Through tens of thousands of plays on SoundCloud, Likhari's three EPs — Amplifiers & Vampires, A Drop of Ether and Love Letters from Lola — have reached far beyond her hometown and earned her opening slots for artists such as Noname, Syd and Majid Jordan.
“I am surprised every single day by how many people have found my music through [SoundCloud],” she said. “Seeing the support I receive for my music at shows and online is really motivating and pushes me to keep working on my writing.”