As a child, Yola received warnings from her mother about the systemic racism and biased perspectives she’d be on the receiving end of. Her new song, “Hold On,” passes that wisdom down to a new generation, but with an optimistic tilt.
“Mama said to me, ‘Hold on’ … Mama said to me, ‘Stay bold,'” Yola sings in the song, which she wrote solo. “Hold on to the things that you love / Tell me who it is that you are / Never let that feeling go / Let it show.”
“My mother’s advice would always stress caution, that all that glitters isn’t gold, and that my Black female role models on TV are probably having a hard time. She warned me that I should rethink my calling to be a writer and a singer … but, to me, that was all the more reason I should take up this space,” Yola explains in a press release. “”Hold On” is asking the next gen to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and black.”
Recorded during the sessions for the Highwomen‘s self-titled debut album at RCA Studio A, “Hold On” features Highwomen Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby singing background vocals, as well as Sheryl Crow on piano, Jason Isbell on electric guitar and Phil and Tim Hanseroth on bass and acoustic guitar, respectively. Dave Cobb produced the song and also plays acoustic guitar.
After releasing her debut album, 2019’s Walk Through Fire, Yola toured extensively, appearing as opening support for the likes of Kacey Musgraves. She also appeared as a featured artist on the Highwomen’s debut album.
As for what lays ahead, Yola tells The Boot she isn’t worried about the expectations set up by her stellar debut. ”It was written about a stage of my life, and I’m over that stage in my life. Easy move on!” she says with a laugh. “I’m using this music as basically free-ass therapy to purge, basically, emotionally hurling up whatever I need to emotional hurl up. Once I’ve hurled it, I need to talk about something else. It’s like therapy. Just move on.”
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