What makes a star? Although there’s no simple recipe for greatness, Libianca clearly displays the key ingredients. This talented Cameroonian songstress is dedicated to “making music that feeds the soul”. Her art is filled with passion, sensitivity and heart; her lyrics are meaningful, her voice is angelic and her talent is palpable. And despite still being in the early stages of her career, she is taking the world by storm. Libianca’s huge breakout track, “People”, has made history – it has shattered boundaries, broken records and captured hearts across the globe. Libianca, who won the award for best international act at the BET awards, has since been ranked number 4 in Spotify’s Top 10 Female Afrobeats artists and she has just finished touring the US whilst supporting the one-and-only Alicia Keys. But what really stands out about Libianca is her beautiful spirit, unwavering faith and deep compassion. Hearing her speak about her art is truly mesmerising because it is clear that Libianca wants her impact to be even bigger than her music: “I want people to remember a woman that could really speak directly to your soul. I don’t even need people to remember me, but I want people to remember everything that my music made them feel.”
Libianca did more than just hit the ground running last year – she spread her wings and soared. She rose to fame in an astronomical way following the success of her iconic hit, “People”. The track reached lofty heights in music charts from Europe and the Americas to Africa and Asia, and has been certified gold and platinum in 9 countries. It became the highest-charting Afrobeats song in the UK and has been heralded as one of the Top 10 Afrobeats songs of all time on Spotify. The powerful track sounds and feels a lot like healing, candidly exploring feelings of sadness and loneliness. When reflecting on the song’s success, which she never expected, Libianca says, “I think the reason that it resonated with so many people is because it was a very raw truth. Everyone has felt that way at some point in their lives so it was very easy for people to connect with… I find it fairly easy to be vulnerable when I create because that’s the only way that I can be truly vulnerable with myself.” But what does Libianca do to pull herself out of those dark times that she so beautifully portrayed in “People”?
“I start the day spending time with God. I become stricter with myself in terms of self-care, I tell myself ‘Let’s really tale this sh*t seriously’: wake up, don’t go on your phone, make yourself some breakfast because you know that cooking food makes you feel better. Maybe go on a walk with your son (my dog!), go for a swim. It’s all about healthy distractions; I healthily distract myself. Then I debrief with myself at the end of the day and it usually works.”
And despite facing difficult times alongside a skyrocketing career, Libianca is currently feeling an overwhelming sense of calm in her life. “I’m going through a stage where I’m getting used to expressing my individuality more. I’m shining light on the things that make me unique, rather than the things that make me similar to everyone else. So you know, it’s comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time, but I can’t complain. … There is no growth in comfort, baby.”
Her follow-up song, “Jah”, takes a different route but is just as moving as its predecessor. The soul-baring track covers topics of love, disappointment and faith, delivered in Libianca’s captivating vocals. The song came together so naturally that it was clearly just meant to be.
“I was on a promo run in London and I had sessions with a lot of producers, back-to-back. When I came into the studio that day… I remember walking in, I sit down, I’m saying hello and then I’m just chilling, reading my book. And then I hear this sick beat, and I say, “I love it, can I write to it?”. I brought out my pen and my paper, I get to writing.. I never have a pre-conceived notion of what I’m going to create. I just accept the fact that I’m a vessel and allow whatever it is to just flow through me. So that’s exactly what happened… everything came to me when I heard the beat. My job is just to bring the stuff that I hear to life… And I wanted the video to be very symbolic, so the more you watch, the more you pick up on. We brought the visuals to life in one day. It was crazy but we did it.”
“Jah” beautifully exemplifies the way that Libianca’s art is deeply rooted in faith and spirituality, making her music even more powerful: “My faith is the reason why I am here. If I don’t believe, then there is only so much that I can do. I have a lot of hope and faith in my God and in my abilities. My faith is not just something that gets me by; it is a way to live. It helps my music, it helps me live day by day… [in “Jah”], some of the lyrics are a thank you to God, because I am mighty grateful for everything.”
Another key ingredient to Libianca’s success is strength in her identity. Hailing from Bamenda, Cameroon, she takes pride in her roots and isn’t afraid to let this shine through her music. But beyond showing the world who she is, there are deeper reasons for Libianca wanting to be loud and proud about where she comes from:
“I spent half of my childhood in Bamenda and from what I remember, growing up there was very limited. It’s easy to only see what is right in front of you and not think about everything else. The reason that it’s so important to tell people that I’m from Bamenda and to shine a light on where I’m from is because there are a lot of kids and adults back home who feel like the only thing for them is right in front of them. I’m here to say, ‘actually if you could get a little delusional for me, you could really accomplish a lot of things that are beyond your wildest dreams.’ I want the little girls to watch me on TV and think, ‘I can do it, I can do whatever I want to do’. You can really be wild with your dreams. I know everyone says, ‘anything is possible’, but I’m here to say that it’s really true.”
In this way, Libianca shows the qualities of a true role model. She is intent on paving the way for those who will follow in her footsteps, if only they just believe in themselves. When asked about the biggest role model in her own childhood, she immediately thinks of her grandmother, who she describes to be the epitome of strength: “She is the strongest woman I know. She has been through so much, but she doesn’t look like what she’s been through, she looks so young, even though she’s so old. She’s very strict with what she believes and how she wants things to go… I admire that about her. That’s the way I live now. I know where I want to be and I know myself and where I want to go. She’s the number on ‘it girl’ for me.”
As a child, Libianca also had another key inspiration when it came to her love of music – her babysitter. “…She had the most beautiful voice and she would just sing her heart out whilst she was doing chores. It inspired me and played a role in how I view music – she kind of lit the candle that grew inside me. And then I started writing songs and putting pen to paper in boarding school, I was about 10 years old. And then I got involved in choir. From there it just kept growing, it became an obsession.”
Libianca competed on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2021, impressively reaching the top 20 contestants. Despite being eliminated before reaching the top spot, Libianca took invaluable lessons away from the experience. “I always thought that I had a threshold, and once I reached a certain point, I couldn’t go beyond that. My experience on The Voice taught me that you can go beyond the beyond. When you feel like you don’t have anything more in you, all you need to do is take a walk. Your creative spirit is always there; it just needs to be inspired.” And in continuing to feed that creative spirit, Libianca has touched the world with her art whilst always remaining true to herself.
“Even though it can be tempting to be cliché and do what everyone else is doing, I know what I am called to do and that is to make music for the soul. No matter how harsh the truth may be or how raw it is, that’s the whole point. Because music is the gateway to people’s soul. I want to keep making music that feeds the soul. This is what I was born to do.”
What does Libianca want to leave behind her? “I want my music to still be alive 100 years from now. I want people to still come back to listen because we are talking about real sh*t right here, stuff that will still be felt long after my passing. I just want people to keep on healing.”
And something else that the songstress also wants to remind people is to always lead with kindness. “I would like for anyone who takes the time to listen to or engage with artists and their music – just remember that we’re all human beings. I think sometimes people forget that public figures are humans too. Be kind, be loving. Don’t go having Twitter fingers! Take the time to be kind to someone today.”
So what’s next for Libianca?
“I just want to stay true to myself and advocate for myself properly. That’s the number one… I’m going to be dropping an EP soon, I’m really excited for that. I actually just finished laying all my vocals and my manager is in the studio right now, as we speak. I’m also working on my album way ahead of time. And then a lot of travelling – I want to travel and connect with people. I feel like a lot of people have fallen in love with me through their screens and I haven’t had the chance to fall in love with them too. I want to meet them and connect and vibe and have a good time. I want to perform a lot.”
Now back to that question: what makes a star? Libianca shows vulnerability, authenticity, identity, faith, compassion and heart. She has a true gift and is dedicated to uplifting those who engage with her art. But perhaps the most important ingredient in the recipe of stardom is soul, and that shines through in everything that Libianca sings, says and does. Libianca always knew she wanted to be a star, and she has wholly fulfilled that promise to herself. Now she is allowing that inner light to shine out into the world, and we’re blessed to be able to see it.