Remembering conversations she had with her mother growing up and her explicit warnings of systematic racism and other unconscious biases she may face as a Black woman, Yola reflects back on these real-life tribulations on “Hold On.”
Following up her 2019 debut Walk Through Fire (Easy Eye), produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, the British singer and songwriter, and former Phantom Limb vocalist, releases her soulful country tale of injustices and bias and making art as a Black woman, through the empowering empathic affirmation of Mama said to me stay bold / No matter what they tell you girl, stay bold / Everyone that seems alright / Has a soul that’s hurting / Deep inside.
“‘Hold On’ is a conversation between me and the next generation of young black girls,” says Yola. “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.”
Featuring Sheryl Crow on piano, Jason Isbell on guitar, and The Highwomen’s Brandi Carlile and Natalie Hemby on backing vocals, “Hold On” was recorded during the Highwomen sessions at RCA Studio A and produced by Dave Cobb. A portion of profits from sales of the track will be donated to MusicCares and National Bailout Collective.
Additionally, a portion of proceeds from the sales of an accompanying line of merchandise will benefit the same organizations.
Next May, Yola will make her headline debut at The Ryman Auditorium and will join Chris Stapleton for multiple shows in 2021, including a performance at Madison Square Garden. On Oct. 10, Yola will appear an hour-long episode of Austin City Limits, broadcast on PBS, in addition to performing Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air” on PBS’s upcoming “Great Performances: GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends,” on Oct. 16. Yola will play Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming musical drama Elvis, starring alongside Tom Hanks and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“‘Hold On’ is asking the next gen to take up space,” says Yola, “to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and black.”