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Genderless artist performs for Black LGBT community in Honolulu

iniko
Columbia Records

New York City-based artist Iniko delivered a soulful performance at the event venue The Republik in Honolulu over the weekend.

Iniko is a nonbinary artist of Afro-Jamaican descent who uses the pronouns they/them. Their music started to get noticed over social media.

"I started consistently posting the covers and freestyles and things that are done on TikTok and Instagram I would say in 2019 once I kind of developed myself as the kind of artist I wanted to be," Iniko explained.

Their music is a blend of R&B, rock and reggae. Although music was always a part of Iniko's life, they began taking it seriously in 2017 when their sister, who is a vocal coach, gave them lessons.

Local event coordinating organization Black Bazaar HNL invited Iniko to perform at its Pride N Seek event to celebrate LGBT History Month. The organization began hosting events for Black people in Hawaiʻi in 2020.

Amy Benson, the creator of Black Bazaar, said, "Hawaiʻi overall, based on the census, is less than 4% Black. [The] LGBTQ community would be even smaller than that 4% number."

"We don’t see ourselves in these different activations that may be happening for Pride. We also don’t see ourselves in a lot of other spaces. So we ultimately are saying we’re gonna create spaces," Benson told HPR.

Iniko played with local artists as their backup band instead of her usual crew, and performed an emotional set on stage.

They said their music is all about authenticity and being true to themselves.

"Me myself, I’m genderless. That’s something I really had to peel back. I really had to take a step back from who I thought was myself. Going to independent fundamental Christian school, that was a really, really super traumatic part of my life that made me question who I am. And that’s why I’m now able to tell you who I am today. And I’m Iniko," they said.

Iniko's music can be found on all streaming platforms.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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