(EDGE) To hear her music today, it's hard to imagine that Austin, Texas-based musician Elle G was once a renowned Christian recording artist and worship leader. That was before she came out. Once she did, coming to terms with her sexuality and committing to living authentically in 2009, she lost it all -- her career, her home, her family, and her friends.
Lucky for her, Elle G is made of one half talent, one half gumption. So after scraping herself off the floor, she started on her way to making a brand-new life for herself, which is exactly what she's enjoying right now. With a day job in finance, beautiful five-year-old twin daughters, and a rising music career, Elle G is back on top.
Her latest album dropped on October 1 with seventeen original tracks. Think hip-hop jams, acoustic tunes, piano ballads, and tongue in cheek covers all working together to create a vibe that's as meaningful as it is laid back. And if sales are indication -- as they certainly must be -- it's pretty damn good album.
Elle G sold more copies within the first week than during the first week of any of her other album sales combined. She marks that as a huge success -- and rightly so. The album can be found nearly anywhere music can be found. But we warned -- If you create an Elle G Spotify or Pandora Station, you might find yourself listening to a surprising mix.
One day Elle G herself did just that and, she says with a laugh, "Hilariously, my Spotify station played one of my songs (like a spiritual piano ballad) and then a Tupac song with hardcore rap lyrics, because of the 'explicit lyrics' rating that my album is found under."
New listeners to Elle G "will find themselves on a true journey of experiential listening," says Elle G. "Some songs invoke laughter and even shock, (thank you, explicit content rating) while other songs will cause even the most stone-cold person to emote. This album exists at the intersection of raw blues/pop acoustic guitar riffs and compelling piano ballads with a dollop of inspiration woven throughout. Bottom line: expect an experience."
And Elle G fans will find this album is "true to the nature of a reliably enjoyable Elle G. live performance and will connect in an even deeper way," Elle G says. "You'll get to know Elle G in a new, intimate way."
A Long Time Coming
The last time Elle G stepped foot into a studio to record an album was 2008. So, this album has been a long time coming. She explains, "When I came out in 2009 and lost my career, I took some much-needed time off from touring and recording in order to heal and start over. Though I wasn't performing or recording, I never stopped writing. We all have our own unique way of grieving and processing loss. Mine is through songwriting. Or as I call it, songwaiting. Each song is essentially downloaded and inspired. I'm simply the conduit. There's no rhyme or reason to my creative process.
But a common thread woven throughout that process is vulnerability, authenticity, and a complete dedication to being raw. I didn't just reinvent myself. I was reborn and reconnected to my most genuine self. This album is packed with 17 originals songs I've been writing since 2009. There were countless songs that didn't even make it on the album simply because I ran out of studio time! This is the album I've always dreamed of making yet didn't know how or when. But I've always known the why. These songs enable the listener to step inside my world and deeply connect with a wide array of all the feels. From heartbreak to suffering to tongue-in-cheek sarcasm to soul-searching to true love, these songs take the listener on a journey that we can all relate to."
More than anything, Elle G says, she is "so grateful I went with my gut on this one and chose to do a completely stripped down album."
Mo' Math, Mo' Money
But a new album is not the only project Elle G birthed into the world in October. She also debuted a rap video about math called "Mo' Math, Mo' Money." Elle G explains, "I wrote a rap about math and then produced a music video. Yeah, I know. Cheesy concept with legit potential to make a far-reaching impact. Once I learned that only one in five students (that take no more math once they've completed Algebra 2 in 8th grade) even goes to college! What's even worse is when you look at the data broken down by students of color vs. their white and Asian counterparts.
It's alarming to note -- and crucial in exposing the inequity -- that when it comes down to the numbers, 1 in 5 eighth graders will ultimately earn a certificate, associates, or baccalaureate. But when it comes to Latino and African-American males that number becomes only 1 in 14, as research from E3 Alliance has revealed.
"There is an unacceptable equity gap that point to the reality that our students of color are falling behind and taking an insufficient amount of math courses," said Elle G. "Students that take advanced math courses in high school are three times more likely to complete a college degree which leads to more options and future success! Education is the civil rights issue of our day and we must intentionally collaborate to ensure that we cultivate a culture where every person cares about the success of all children. All."
The video garnered massive attention via social and traditional media outlets. "We had 30,000 views in the first five days on Facebook," Elle G explains. "It's already having a major impact and opening doors for courageous conversations regarding institutional racism and systemic inequity in our public school system.
We are launching a student contest in the beginning of 2018 where schools in Austin will compete against each other to make the video their own. Think ice bucket challenge meets mannequin challenge and the winner's video will be played at SXSW EDU. And Google has committed to giving away a prize to the winning school's video. The video contest among students will be huge and will enable additional grassroots movement buzz.
More donors are coming forward to help promote the "Mo' Math, Mo' Money" campaign because they're realizing it's more than a music video. It's a message wrapped in a top-notch, entertaining, professional hip hop track and music video. We are going to start entering the video into contests to continue to increase its viral potential.
There's one thing for sure, Elle G is one to watch, not only as a musician, but as a person as well. After all she's been through, launching a new album after nine years would have been more than enough. But for Elle G, it wasn't even close to enough. Where there is inequity, there is work to be done, work Elle G inspired and impassioned to do -- even if it means getting the Mayor of Austin to appear in a rap video about doing math. And, yes, Elle G did just that. See for yourself below.