LaLa DeLo reflects on dreams deferred: A Martin Luther King Jr Day playlist

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LaLa DeLo has been recording steadily this past several months, offering tunes on her Instagram. — courtesy of the artist.

Community activator LaTasha DeLoach is an integral part of Iowa City in her role as coordinator for the Senior Center. But that position, just two and a half years strong, is only the tip of the iceberg that is her impact on our region. She sat on the Iowa City School Board in the mid-teens and before that worked for years for Johnson County Social Services; her work with Sankofa Outreach Connection has served as a point of both grounding and uplifting for black women in eastern Iowa.

And oh yeah: She sings.

As Lala DeLo, she has been gifting her Instagram followers with the mellow, cello tones of her gorgeous alto, making videos on the Voisey platform. Recently, she got into the studio to record a tune that will drop this spring. LaLa DeLo answered a few questions via email about music and social justice, and took some time out of her crazy day to create “Reflections on a Dream Deferred, again,” a playlist of songs for your Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

How does your music dovetail with your community work and commitment to social justice, both in terms of content and approach?

Honestly, I am taking a radical approach to my social justice work these days. I am resting, napping, loving on my kids and singing. I feel like this is the time for my allies to do the heavy lifting because the foundation is laid and there are thousands of examples. The fact that I am singing again is an act of self preservation and empowerment that there is no age to when I am stuck in a box about how I can be creative and how I chose to share that creativity with the world. I am still working hard on state and federal level to eliminate disparities impacting Black girls in juvenile justice.

How long have you been singing? Or, rather, if singing was sort of baked into your upbringing, how long have you used music as a way to amplify your voice?

I sang for a long time but mostly in choirs and helping with writing some stacks and harmonies for choirs but I stopped singing and writing about 10 years ago. I started back taking singing lessons of January 2020. I have had to work really hard to get some of those gifts back, and I have acquired other skills and knowledge about music I never knew before. My eyes are open to a whole new world of how I can engage the world through music.

Singing is a form of freedom that no one can truly take away from you. Whether you are amazing like Jazmine Sullivan, Brandy and other greats or if you are just singing in your house off key.

Tell me a little bit about the song you recorded. Was this your first time studio recording? Will it formally be released as a single?

The song I am recording, as I have another session coming up to add more to the song is titled, “Fool For Wanting You.” It’s more of a story I am telling in the song. Its one of those, “I know better but here I am still wanting and loving you” (big sigh!). I have recorded once before but mostly background vocals. The song will be out on all platforms before or by March 12.

Who are your key collaborators? How do you choose who to work with musically? How did your collaboration process morph as a result of the pandemic?

I collaborated with a new and amazing artist, Davion J. He’s soo good and is amazing vocal arranger, lead and background vocalist. The song is produced by K6 Music Productions and 6Points Productions out of L.A. and Dallas, TX. They collaborated on the music and it’s really fantastic. Honestly it’s about blending of voices and matching energy. If we can vibe together and our voices complement that, I am happy to work with other artist. This process is from an international platform.

I was using an app for singing which allowed me to stack voices and make harmonies, and I began meeting other artist, songwriters, producers, etc. from all over the world. At this point I have collaborated with folks from the UK to The Gambia to all across the U.S. Its been a very humanizing experience grieving, laughing, connecting and meeting individuals while staying home. I even have my children more invested in music and found that my daughter is a songwriter and my son has perfect musical pitch. It’s been restorative and healing for me to just sing.


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What’s next? How does it feel making music now, not knowing when you’ll get to take it live?

You know what, I am not sure what is next. I think I am going to go where the universe takes me with this one because it’s kind of an unexpected road in my life. I am just living in the now, so I am not even sure what singing my song live can even look like because COVID has been completely in the backdrop of every note I have sang in 2020 and now 2021.

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