Pop Musician and Performer
2019 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by the USA Board of Trustees.
Tunde Olaniran is a driving creative force in his hometown of Flint, Michigan and a beloved fixture in Detroit music. The multi-hyphenate songwriter released a new single, “Symbol,” via NPR Music in 2017. The track was his first new release since Transgressor, his 2015 breakthrough debut album, which garnered critical praise from outlets including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Jezebel, Paste, Pitchfork, Noisey, Bitch, Afropunk, and more. His 2016 breakout single, “Namesake,” was featured in commercials for Motorola, Chevy, and the Apple iPhone 8.
Prior to releasing Transgressor, Olaniran released Yung Archetype, an EP lauded as “a pitch-perfect mashup of pop-leaning underground music” by Pitchfork. He was also a contributing author to Octavia’s Brood, a sci-fi/visionary fiction anthology named by Ms. Magazine as one of the top feminist books of 2015.
In 2017, Olaniran took his live show to SXSW, where NPR Music included him in their “All Songs Considered SXSW Preview” and named him “one of NPR Music’s favorite performers at SXSW 2017.” That same year, he had his first national tour supporting noise pop group Sleigh Bells and performed in Europe at Y Not Music fest and Festival Les Escales. Later that year, Olaniran collaborated with Detroit artist Flint Eastwood on her track, “Push” and folk singer Chris Bathgate, co-writing and performing on Bathgate’s single “Low Hey.” He also co-wrote and produced “Hijabi” and “Dog” by Mona Haydar, and directed the viral video for “Hijabi,” which was named one of the top 20 protest songs by Billboard Magazine.
Portrait photo by Landon Speers.