Kyle Kidd felt stuck and alone. The pandemic left the singer, youth counselor and educator isolated and with nothing to do. It was mid-winter 2020.
Kidd wanted someone, anyone, to pinch them — to “be like, ‘you're still alive,’” they say.
When the depression reached its tipping point, Kidd walked to the home of collaborator R.A. Washington, the bassist and co-founder of their group Mourning [A] BLKstar.
"Just turn the mic on and play some shit,’” Kidd recalls saying. “And I just started singing.”
A week later they finished an early version of Soothsayer, Kidd’s debut LP. Set to release Aug. 5, the record reads like a diary, raw and without a censure, a sometimes-painful display of self-acceptance and everything the artist needed to heal.
Alongside genre-bending production — borrowing elements from soul, funk and R&B to name a few — Kidd blends high fashion and stylized videos with their music, creating what the artist refers to as a “multisensory effect,” inspired by iconic performers Whitney Houston and Sylvester.
On the record’s first single, “TMS,” they call on previous struggles and redirect that energy into the future, using it as a guide.
“You come to scars and you decide to say, ‘The scars will lead the way, but they won’t be the deciding factor of where I go,” Kidd says, “They’ll just give some perspective of where I could go.”
From there, the album bares its soul, tackling the artist’s experience with love, strife and everything in between. But more than an expression of Kidd’s spirit, the music provides the world a proud, Black and queer voice.
“As human beings, we want to see ourselves represented,” Washington says. “Kyle is such a trailblazer when it comes to the synthesis of all their identities and the way they represent. We probably can’t even imagine how far it could go.”
The singer worked for the LGBTQ Center of Greater Cleveland until 2018. They also sit on the board of the West 117 Foundation and, as an adolescent life coach, educate kids about music, art, social justice and self-acceptance — work Kidd honors through their own journey.
“It’s a celebration of becoming for all of us," Kidd says. "For young people that I have worked with to finally see me, it’s like a win for them. Everybody who’s a part of the project, it’s a win for them. It’s a win for Cleveland.”
Despite the raw intimacy of the album, the singer describes feeling both reticent and excited to show the world what makes them tick.
“It brings the fear in you,” Kidd says. “Will I be able to sustain myself? Will I be able to present this and feel confident to stand next to it? And so, I just had a moment where I was like ... I’m willing to stand next to my feelings. I’m willing to stand next to my truth and my realities. But it took me a long time to get there.”