(Blavity) In her debut television performance at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, breakout songstress TeaMarrr dazzled the stage with the charisma and swagger of a veteran artist as she performed her new single “Kinda Love.” However, the set was more memorable for TeaMarrr’s embrace of an object she carried with her throughout the whole night and included in her performance — a Black teacup. Upon first glance, sipping from a teacup during a performance might seem quite odd, but it makes perfect sense for TeaMarrr, who perceives her music as having the same healing energy as tea does.
“I think the healing just comes from a play on tea, and how tea can be very healing for you,” TeaMarrr told Blavity. “I actually do believe in sonic frequencies and healing. Before a show, I’ll go on YouTube, and find positive or confident meditation frequencies. I might not know exactly what frequencies I’m using, but I do know that it’s provoking and it’s healing, and people are letting me know that they feel something when they listen to my music. So I do feel like there’s some sort of medicinal approach to my art.”
TeaMarrr’s medicinal approach to music eventually reached the ears of actress and producer Issa Rae, whosigned TeaMarrr as the first artist on her Raedio record labelwith Atlantic Records last month. Born Thamar Noel, TeaMarrr — which is an acronym for “totally enthused about making art really, really raw” — said she was inspired by the healing energy heard throughout music from artists like Jhené Aiko, Erykah Badu and Kehlani, and wanted to evoke that same rawness in her own sound.
“My [social media] handle is @imaliltcup, so I wanted everything to stay the way it was before music touched me, and I wanted to make sense of why I called myself ‘I’m a little teacup’ and to keep my name. I was always fascinated by teacups, and once I started making music, that started to become the tea,” TeaMarrr said. “It’s the actual substance of what’s inside of me, and the actual art I’m creating is the soul of the cup. So I morphed my real name and my social media name to create my artist name.”
However, pursuing music never seemed like a viable option for TeaMarrr, who wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music as a kid. Although, the Boston-bred singer loved music, she initially thought being a professional singer wouldn’t be meaningful for her.
“I don’t know if I was very entertaining as a kid, but I wrote poems and turned them into songs when I was seven and eight and nine,” TeaMarrr said. “I wrote stories and scripts. I was trying to be a comedian, so I was trying to be funny, but I always thought that becoming a singer was too much of a cliché, so I was too embarrassed to say that’s what I wanted. I would always say that I wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor just to sound more traditional.”
Although listening to secular music was banned in her household, that didn’t stop TeaMarrr from indulging in it. When her parents were away, TeaMarrr said she would sneak around and listen to the radio. She found the vulgarity of music from artists like Biggie, Ludacris and Tyler, the Creator impressive, and she hoped to make similar songs someday.