Quiana Lynell is a New Orleans-based, Texas-bred jazz-and-beyond artist with exceptional talents as a vocalist, educator, composer, performer, arranger, and advocate. In addition to garnering recognition through such achievements as the Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition Award, an album release through Concord Jazz, and numerous high-profile international performances, Quiana is a champion for mental well-being and wellness matters. Read on to learn more about Quiana’s thoughts on these topics, and more.
How would you describe your music in three words?
Personal. Expressive. Free.
What’s the earliest musical experience that inspired you to pursue music professionally – that “I want to do that” moment?
When I was 10, I was able to sing at a city-wide public function. It was the first time I sang for an audience of strangers, and that was actually more comforting than singing for family and friends. That's how I knew I wanted to live on the stage.
Your career has been diverse, but still music-centric: from teaching music in schools, to winning multiple notable competitions, to bandleading, arranging, and back to teaching in colleges. All of this, still while managing a strong career as an independent artist! How has your music developed or changed through the years in reflection of these experiences?
Teaching has always been a passion for me, I feel mostly because I am dedicated to being a lifelong learner. I believe there is something to learn from any, and every, thing. The work I am currently doing with teens and adolescents in jazz and popular music programs is very motivational. They keep me on my toes and motivated to keep growing. They keep me young and connected to the current movement in music. Their compositions and content inspire me in ways I can't imagine, and help shape my expression.
Allen Toussaint once stated, “Music is everything to me short of breathing. Music also has a role to life you up-not to be escapist but to take you out of misery.” With that said, how has music gotten you through hard times in your life?
Ever since I can remember, music has been a savior to me. Growing up, I had a hard childhood and I would write songs to cope. I believe there is a lyric to explain every situation. Songwriters are the muses of life and allow people to rest, replenish, and recoup, 3 minutes at a time!
What does “Music for the Mind” mean to you?
Mental health is what rings to me. Keeping your thoughts positive and uplifted!
What is a message you hope others receive through your music?
I hope everyone I share music with knows that they are capable of reaching their goals and achieving their wildest dreams.
In addition to music as a cathartic measure, are there other resources or coping mechanisms, so-to-say, that you use to care for your mental health?
Meditation is big for me, setting my intentions is a must. I frequently use Tibetan singing bowls to clear my energy.
Any last thoughts/comments you’d like to share?
I am a firm believer in loving yourself and self-care. Mental health is the foundation for all success. I implore everyone to take the time, and check-in and reset, as often as possible. Seek out resources and get the help you need!
Learn more about Quiana Lynell at:
Official Website: https://www.quianalynell.com
All photos by Jose Cotto for the Brett Thomas Doussan (BTD) Foundation.