Few artists have captured the attention of the city like Bijoux. Singer, songwriter, poet and performer, the Little Rock native opens up to Soirée about her early connection to music, her foray into afrobeat and her heart for local nonprofits.

What is your earliest memory of your passion for music?

I wanted to sing TV themes. My main aspirations were the Kraft macaroni theme (“The Blue Box Blues”), the “Reading Rainbow” theme and the Big Mac jingle (Lena Horne’s was my fave).

If you had to pick one album that changed your life, what would it be?

Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” It’s the first album I remember. I learned that thing from front to back. You would have thought he was a kiddie pop star in ‘87. Paul Simon was everything to me as a kid.

What do you enjoy most about your creative process?

I have been fortunate enough to have gained popularity doing music that I actually like. I believe that because I’ve been authentic musically and treated most people pretty nicely, I’ve made a pocket for myself that will probably always feel like home. I’ve now taken the opportunity to create music and that has been quite amazing. I don’t suck at it (so that’s cool) and I get the opportunity to leave my mark on the world with my thoughts and a sound that is authentically Bijoux. I’m grateful.

What does music teach you about yourself?

Music forces me to farm the depths of love, acceptance, anger, experience and life. It’s as soothing as it is annoying in its constant challenge of my mindset and emotions. And that’s just the consumption part. Approaching, learning, internalizing and performing music is this balance of respecting the intent of a piece and being flexible in your interpretation. You need to be appropriately passionate about the content and respectful of the space you’re performing in. You have to connect with people and with your own emotions. Music teaches me every day that there’s more.

What song are you most proud of and why?

I wrote a song called “Died on Time” with Ferocious (Dondrae Vinson). I don’t know when it’s going to be released, but it paints what I consider to be a stark picture of what it feels like to share intimate space with someone who has quietly abandoned you emotionally. It’s an attempt to navigate exactly why two people would pretend to be something they clearly haven’t been for some time.

What’s the most valuable thing you learned working on your new single “Dit Moi”?

“Dit Moi” is my link to my culture. I’m a first generation Cameroonian-American. Like many immigrant children, I spent a lot of time and energy assimilating to what felt like the cooler culture (what teen doesn’t want to be just like their friends?). As I got older, I wanted to connect more with Cameroon and my culture’s music. My brother Etukeni linked me with Liinx (no pun intended) and “Dit Moi” was the result. I’m so grateful to have been able to take a step into afrobeat and I’m excited about my next outings in the genre.

You’re performing at this year’s Evolve Gala. What made you want to get involved with Centers for Youth and Families?

I worked with pregnant and parenting families for almost a decade. Preventing ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) will probably always be a big ticket item for me. As American culture shifts to a focus on mental health, it’s obvious to see that journey starts in childhood. It’s just as easy to see when working with families that healthy parents create healthy families. Without proper resources for children and their families, we fail future generations day by day. I’ve been blessed to extend partnership to many families through the years, and I jumped at the chance to be involved with this amazing event. Thanks so much to Mark Allison for his invite as well!

Styled by MALINA TABOR | Hair & makeup by LORI WENGER | Clothing from B.BARNETT

The Evolve Gala
March 14, 6 p.m.
Statehouse Convention Center