On June 4, thousands of Nashvillians peacefully marched to protest against racism and police brutality. Organized by five teenage girls, the march’s protestors included members of the Nashville music community like R.LUM.R, Phangs, Hayley Williams, Devon Gilfillian and many others. On the heels of the march, Nashville artist and songwriter Joy Oladokun released beautifully powerful single “Who Do I Turn To?”
Oladokun wrote “Who Do I Turn To?” only one week before the march with Grammy award-winning songwriter and member of The Highwomen, Natalie Hemby. Oladokun says, “I love black soul ballads. I wanted to pay homage to that with a song about not regretting my past and knowing I have a bright, beautiful future. I just have to trust God, do the work, let all the love in and hope for the best.”
“Some might ask me if I have hope about the future,” Oladokun continues. “Hope is a loaded word. As a black person in America, living in Nashville, hope is a condition of survival. Hope is how I operate on a day to day basis. I hope my art will be heard, and I hope its gravity won’t be discounted because I’m a black woman who plays folk music. I don’t have any more hope than I usually do. I am optimistic because I feel like more people are listening. However, action is and will continue to be the most important piece.”
Growing up in a small rural community in Arizona, Oladokun began playing guitar when she was ten years old. Playing music stuck with her as a passion without pursuing it as a career, as she would craft songs as gifts for friends. After completing college, a friend asked Oladokun what she would be doing for a living if money weren’t an issue. Oladokun realized she desired to write songs and travel, so she moved Los Angeles to carve out the start of her career as a songwriter and artist.
Folk, pop and R&B are all fused together in Oladokun’s art, taking cues from Tracy Chapman, Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley. After Oladokun relocated to Nashville, she developed a reputation as a killer songwriter, played at Nashville Pride last year alongside TLC and mostly recently performed a stunning headlining set at The High Watt for one of the last shows we caught before COVID isolation measures went into full effect.
If you’ve been following our Spotify playlist, you’ll know “Who Do I Turn To?” is the latest in a strong streak of releases from Oladokun. Her upcoming full length, in defense of my own happiness, volume 1, is set to come out on July 17. In the meantime, we recommend scoping out her entire catalog after you soak up the message of “Who Do I Turn To?” below. In times like these, Nashville is lucky to have Joy Oladokun to turn to.