When singer-songwriter Fana Hues was a child, illness took away her voice for almost five years. “I had scarlet fever, tonsillitis, and strep throat at the same time,” the 25-year-old from Pasadena, CA recalls about the years she spent yearning to sing—years her mother, a dancer and healer, spent concocting natural medicines and elixirs that would eventually restore her voice. A challenging and humbling experience, Fana’s period of near voicelessness, led her to appreciate both the power of healing and realize her purpose as a musician at a young age.
A student of R&B’s masterful vocalists Nina Simone, Dionne Warwick, Anita Baker, Beyonce Knowles, and Mary J. Blige, and one of nine children, Fana was raised within a large, musical family. Her father, a bass, guitar and piano player, taught her and her sisters how to sing. “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t learning armonies," Fana remembers, illustrating a home environment built to foster her passion. “Music is literally in the fabric of our family [and] our bond as a family,” she says about her relatives, who make appearances in the form of memories in the self-conceptualized video for single, “Notice Me”. Her family is also the inspiration behind the moniker Hues, named to reflect their surname Hughes as well as Fana’s intention to be innovative in her approach. “I want to capture all the different hades of one idea,” she explains about bending and twisting R&B, and bringing elements of herself to the genre.
Fana trained in violin lessons for eight years, and after inheriting a bass from her father, taught herself to play. In school, an English teacher encouraged her poetry writing skills, and by the time she was a teen, Fana was writing her own songs. “It was one of my favorite things to do for a long time,” she says about trips to San Quentin State Prison, where she participated in writer’s workshops and emotional literacy programs with inmates as a part of a local community organization, Aim4TheHeart. It’s where Fana says she developed her voice as a songwriter, and rooted her musical practice in service to others.
Theatre has also been a really important part of her life that has shaped her as a writer. “Theatre specifically calls for a more traditional and broader approach to conveying emotion,” Fana notes, “I was taught never to move without purpose in acting and I try to incorporate that in my writing and everything I do really. To have intention behind every word I write or move I make, makes for a better artistic display.” More recently Fana was cast in a musical biographical exploration of Elvis Presley’s early days. Fana shared, “I got to sing some of the blues and gospel songs he ‘borrowed’ from black artists, but being in the production, and repeating the same track every night for over 9 months allowed me to discover my voice in an entirely different way.”