Toronto-based Hunnah isn’t widely known just yet, but the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants will be soon.
Her interest in music started at 4 years old when she began to take piano lessons, but the singer didn’t pursue her dreams until her final year of college.
While completing a degree in journalism, Hunnah began posting videos to YouTube, which soon caught the attention of a few in-the-know people in Los Angeles. However, LA was briefly put on hold after Hunnah’s mother received a harrowing diagnosis.
“My first trip to LA was around February 2017, and it’s very interesting because trying to make this happen became a backdrop to what was actually essentially happening in my family’s lives,” she told ESSENCE. “My mom got diagnosed with cancer that summer so everybody’s focus shifted. It wasn’t about what I was doing or what I was trying to do, it was me doing this on the side while this huge life-altering event was unfolding.”
Sadly, the singer’s mother passed away that summer, but Show You is a reflection of the time the two spent together, and Hunnah’s struggle with loss.
There is no time to just wait. Embrace and love yourself.Hunnah
“All of the growth and building, and making this EP, and making this music thing happen were happening simultaneously. ‘In My Dreams’ and ‘Broken Pieces,’ those were two songs written after my mom passed and ‘Show You’ was written a month before she passed,” she explained.
“[It’s] very directly related to the relationship with my mom and dealing with trying to figure out how to function, and go on, and how to deal with emotions like grief and loss,” she added.
While struggling to come to terms with her mother’s illness, the singer was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that can cause infertility and can have physical and emotional effects on the body.
This happened at a time when the singer was putting together promotional content for her music, setting up photo shoots and crafting an image.
“I had this time where I had gained a whole bunch of weight suddenly and it was because of [PCOS]. I was starting to put content out and having to get used to this new body, having to put it out into the world and take pictures of it and have videos of it was something that I really had to be self-confrontational about,” she admitted.
“Outside forces let you think that you’re not worthy or you’re not beautiful,” she continued. “It was kind of hard to not listen to those voices that I had always heard when I was younger.”
It’s refreshing to hear the singer open up about her own issues with body image, especially because she comes across so carefree and confident in her video for “Think About It.”
“I used to think that I’d have to wait to love myself. Like, if I can get my hormones in order, then I can get back to the body that I remember then I can love myself again and then I can show people I feel comfortable taking pictures,” Hunnuh began. “But just having it simultaneously happen with everything that was happening with my mom I was like, ‘There is no time to just wait. Embrace and love yourself. You don’t have to be ashamed of who you are or what you look like.’ It’s definitely a journey to be comfortable with something that feels so different.”
Now, Hunnah’s focus has shifted. After having her music played on Lena Waithe’s hit series Boomerang, and she’s preparing to release a new video for “Crush.” Still, interestingly enough there’s one goal that she has yet to achieve: dating.
“That’s a personal growth goal,” she laughed. “I just want to go on one date because, yeah, I’m a very emotionally closed off person, but I’m trying to embrace life and to go on and be a little more open this year.”