Denise Chaila was recently announced as the winner of the RTÉ Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the Year 2020 for her album Go Bravely.
Chaila beat out tough competition in a difficult year for the music industry, with many other promising Irish voices competing such as Róisín Murphy, Pillow Queens, and Fontaines DC.
The winning act receives a prize fund of €10,000, which is provided by The Irish Recorded Music Association and The Irish Music Rights Organisation.
The funds are intended to help future recording for the artist, and winning the award also provides credibility and recognition for acts when looking to tour outside of Ireland.
The album winner being selected by critics has resulted in some controversial choices in recent times, though Chaila’s win is unlikely to be one of them.
The Zambia-born, Limerick-raised artist is extremely talented, with her music defining her as a poet, rapper and singer. Her rise in Irish music has been aided by work with other Irish MCs such as members of the award-winning Rusangano Family, MuRli Bo and God Knows.
From her musical family to her solo output, Denise Chaila has gradually become a spokesperson for the Black Irish experience, with songs such as Dual Citizenship shining a light on the struggles that come with finding your space in a historically traditional and monocultural country.
Chaila has become a breakout star in the Irish music scene over the last year with songs such as Anseo, and Out the Gaff, and multiple appearances on The Late Late Show.
A clear sign of how far Chaila can go with her musical talent is that the release that won the €10,000 award is not even technically an album according to her.
Go Bravely was launched as a ‘mixtape’, intended to preview what Chaila is capable of before she releases a full record, something she is currently working on.
Go Bravely is very deserving of the Album of the Year award, with Chaila balancing delicate spoken word pieces and aggressive soul melodies in a powerful way that shows her self-confidence in music performance.
From the R&B softness in songs like Pieces to the punchy boldness of others like Rí Rá, Chaila has created a unique experience that blends modern hip-hop with spoken word into songs that promote a desire for self-assurance, justice and social change. The mixtape is a captivating introduction to a talented artist.
The Album of the Year award confirms Denise Chaila’s ranking as one of the most talented young artists in Irish music, and her ability to confront the complexities of identity in her songs is unique.
Image Credit: RTÉ Choice Music