Who is Umi? The rising musician’s media handles share the same question, @whoisumi.
Growing up in the prime era of Youtube, Tierra Umi Wilson always had a knack for songwriting. In high school, the young aspiring artist spent time putting music covers up on Youtube. Having musically talented parents, it wasn’t hard for her to start working on producing her own songs. She now also has meditation videos detailing self-love and holds local art shows.
With 532,000 subscribers and growing on Youtube and multiple EPs, Umi (Japanese for Ocean) is still growing in talent and content every day. She is known for her cross-cultural, genre-bending skills, unique art, and her overall open-minded and open-hearted personality. Often valued for her ability to tell the story of multiculturalism through song, Umi’s audience is continuing to grow in size.
Umi as a cross cultural kid
As a kid, she grew up in Washington State and moved to California for college. With an African-American father and Japanese mother both with musical roots, Umi credits her family for her introduction to music, saying in an interview:
Growing up with my mom playing a lot of Japanese music in the house — like Japanese jazz, pop, and rock — I grew up with more melodies to tap into, and more perspective.
This cultural influence followed her into her later endeavors. Cross-cultural kids like Umi often find it hard to find a place in the world but this did not stop her.
As she said in an interview:
I never felt Black enough or Japanese enough. It’s a sentiment I feel like a lot of kids grow up feeling. But as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that being mixed means I can define my identity on my own terms.
Umi and her cross-cultural artistry
Understanding the importance of representation, Umi focuses on infusing her multiple intersecting identities and personal third culture within her music. By creating songs like “Pretty Girl Hi,” Umi not only expresses the importance of self love, she addresses her queerness in an uplifting and joyful way. Songs like this leave space for women of color to feel empowered through their sexuality in more than a sexual way.
Within her EP “Love Language,” Umi details the internal battles that many young women of color feel growing up in relation to their identity. In her music videos, Umi juxtaposes anime and live footage to portray to the audience the ever-so-changing identity crises many multiracial kids feel growing up. “Sukidakara” is the second song in the series and only having one line in English, this Japanese and R&B fusion shows just how much Umi represents her cultures through her music.
Also spending time working with other CCK artists, she is creating collaborations to highlight her identities and their intersections. Working with artists like Joyce Wrice, Umi is continuing to work on expanding her impact and creating multicultural masterpieces.
Through her music and self-love Youtube videos, Umi not only focuses on individual healing but is attempting to have a larger community impact. Vowing that meditation is essential to everyday life, Umi practices what she preaches.