Cameroon via Minnesota singer/songwriter, Libianca, has always known music as the healer. Having grown up, split between two homes; that of her home country, and the place she now resides, her connection to music has never been unknown. From singing heartfelt hymns of the homeland through church, to soulful performances at school, confidence-building open mics, and the well-renowned talent singing show, The Voice US, all conquered by 22 years of age, it’s clear that Libianca has a promising history of musical and personal growth under her belt. What has her name on everyone’s lips however is her soul-baring hit, People, which has received massive acclaim worldwide, catapulting her into virality. The song’s ability to speak from within has captivated the hearts and minds of many all around the world, launching Libianca onto a stable and sturdy platform to speak her truths. However, despite expressing how intimidating the nature of being vulnerable can be, Libianca’s honest and dazzling lyricism would have you thinking twice. It’s an intimate nod to her practice of healing and battling overwhelming, intense lows. The song’s message is not complex, but rather direct, however the way her words act as a comforting embrace, is what keeps the track on a continuous loop. Still, the artist has worked tirelessly on her craft for years in order to capture the attention of millions, and it’s fair to say that we are all now firmly seated, eager for more.
To gain a further understanding of Libianca’s journey so far, we spoke with the rising artist to discuss her buzzing viral status, life before the hit record, and her process of music as healing without fear.
Tell me a little bit about growing up in between Cameroon and Minnesota as a kid. They’re both very distinctly different places, so what was it like being in between those two places?
As a kid, it’s like the best thing ever to travel. In Cameroon, I never really got to appreciate what I had when I had it, but my childhood was full of activities. I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t have a tablet, but guess what? I’m gonna have a damn good time. That was how my life in Cameroon was in a nutshell. And America, it was a culture shock in the different ways of doing things, but I adapted quickly enough. I got to experience a lot of cultures because America in itself is more diverse than Cameroon. So I got to pick and choose morals and values, and how I wanted to live my life and things like that, just because of the exposure I had in my childhood and the places I’ve been.
When they move away from their home country, a lot of people can adapt to a new lifestyle elsewhere. How did you maintain your connection with your roots?
Thankfully, I had my parents with me. It wasn’t like an American home, you’re still in a Cameroonian household when you enter the house. I made sure that even if I’m listening to American music or French music or whatever, I’m still gonna listen to music from my country. I stayed in contact with some of my family members as well. WhatsApp, that app right there is something else, I take it off my phone sometimes [laughs]. That was the only way I could talk to any friends back home and family. So I definitely did all those things to stay grounded because I missed Cameroon.
Speaking on music, what kind of music and artists were you listening to as a kid that may have impacted you as an artist now?
Keyshia Cole, Shakira, Beyonce, Chris Brown. There was a lot of r&b in my house. Rihanna, the list goes on and on. My house was definitely an R&B house. And also Makossa. I listened to Magasco, he’s a Cameroonian artist, and I also listened to some Congolese music as well. So yeah, it was very diverse.
I guess then you could say you’ve been kind of surrounded by music your entire life. I know you started singing at church, and then you made your way to open mics, which eventually led you to compete on The Voice in 2021. What did that experience teach you?
It taught me to do it even if I’m scared. If I would have allowed my anxiety to lead the way for me, I don’t think I would even be where I am right now. I wouldn’t have made it on The Voice. I wouldn’t have even thought to audition. But somehow I am addicted to doing things that I’m afraid of. I am addicted to doing things that I’m scared to do. Because you just feel really good after you do it.
Do you think you still struggle with that kind of fear? Of doing things that you’re not sure of?
It’s part of being human, I’m only a human being. So when something new comes up, whether it’s music related, or even skydiving. I’m still contemplating skydiving right now. My best friend has been trying to get me to go skydiving, and I’m like, I don’t know, I think I will really pass out [laughs]. That fear is always there. I just don’t like the concept of allowing my fear to control me or to lead me because it’s going to limit me in so many ways. So even if I’m scared, that usually means that I gotta do it.
I feel like that sentiment kind of relates to your hit single ‘People’. It’s doing massive numbers everywhere. Is it kind of crazy for you to see it blow up so quickly and see it grow on the charts?
It’s very crazy. I mean, I think even right now, the team has been letting me know what the stats are. I remember like, a few days ago, they told me “you’re number one in this place, you’re charting in 25 countries right now”. I’m like, are you kidding me? It’s always very shocking [laughs]. And you would think that I would know these things but I really don’t. All I know is that, you know, there’s people around the world that love it, and they like me. I can’t wait to meet all of my supporters. I think I have a different way of looking at things. So I get really shocked even when I see people listening to the song or posting videos to the song. I’m like, are you serious? Little old me?
I can’t imagine how it would feel to see it all, it’s massive on Tik ok, and the music video has garnered over 10 million views, which is very telling of the amount of power that song has had on people. How does it feel to know your music has the power to heal?
It feels validating, it lets me know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m doing the right thing, I’m on the right track. And I’m very happy about that. Because a lot of people can look at me and say, oh it’s just you, you know, this is your power, you have the power. But also, not necessarily, God has the power to heal people, and I’m the vessel. He just downloads the data in me, and I put it out. That’s pretty much how it goes. But yeah, I do have to stay grounded and just keep understanding that we’re all human beings. Nobody’s above the other, there’s nothing that you will have gone through that somebody else you know, hasn’t.
People is about you confronting anxious and depressive feelings, but also sitting with them and processing them, which not a lot of people can do effectively, you know what I mean. So, when I was listening to that song and hearing the lyrics, I realised how emotional it was and how vulnerable you allow yourself to be. Did you ever think you’d be able to produce such a song and have it put out for people to listen to?
Absolutely not. A while before I started getting more vulnerable in my music, I really didn’t know that that would be the direction that I would be going in, until eventually it became where when I listened to my music, I wanted to feel more. So whenever I’m going through something, or even if I’m not, I want to be able to bare my heart out on a track, when I’m happy, sad, angry, whatever the emotions may be, disappointed. It just holds more weight to me, when I am more vulnerable with my songs. So I plan to keep on doing that.
That’s awesome, I’m really excited to see more. I saw you shared a video on your Instagram story of you in the studio. Would that be a snippet into what we’ll be hearing next?
I’m definitely working on a lot, I’ve been in sessions up and down. Because, you know, I can’t just release any type of music I want. I want the world to really get in on this global therapy session. Every time I release a song or a project, it should be kind of like a therapy session for whoever is listening. But there will be a lot of music that will be dropping this year. It would only make sense to keep up the momentum.
At 22, you have so much time and opportunity and life ahead of you as well; where do you see yourself over the next year?
Probably sometime this year, I want to be performing in these places that my supporters reside. I want to be able to just chat with them and perform. I definitely see myself connecting on a physical level with my supporters, and be in the same vicinity as them. That’s definitely a goal. So hopefully, if my team agrees with me, we’ll get this show on the road. And just growing, honing my craft and developing. Now that I have the time to do what I love full time, what’s stopping me from really taking time to grow? I want to hone in on my vocal and mic performance skills, rehearsing these things, and making sure that when I have a show, I’m giving the people a real show. That’s pretty much what this year is going to be.
That’s so exciting, and hopefully one day we’ll be able to see you in Australia.
Australia is going to see me, that’s a fact. I want to go everywhere at the same time. So I don’t know how the team is gonna deal with me [laughs], but I hope they don’t make me wait; I need to come there. I need to come everywhere.
Yes, let’s make it happen! And then to close, I want to ask you, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I just hope that when people are done listening to my music, they feel validated. They feel a little more confident every time they listen to my music. They don’t feel any bit of self-hate, and things like that. Instead, they’re living with the opposite of that, living with self-love, and they can sit and look at themselves in the mirror and be like, I don’t even know what I was tripping about. If they don’t like me, that’s their business. Or, you know, I’m not even gonna overthink about all of that, because at the end of the day, I’m just gonna be me and everything’s gonna be fine. You know? I just want people to feel a little bit more comfortable in their skin when they listen to my music.
That’s a beautiful message. Thank you so much Libianca.
Of course, thank you Adele.
Follow Libianca here for more and stream the new single People here.