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Joy Crookes' first album embraces power, heartbreak and racial justice

Joy Crookes.
Toast Press
Sony Music UK
Joy Crookes.

Joy Crookes wants you to love the skin you were born in.

The singer-songwriter from South London, born to Bangladeshi and Irish immigrants, knows all-too-well the struggle of trying to figure out your identity in a society where being yourself can look like a thousand different things. In her debut album, Skin, Crookes soulfully sings us through those streets and neighborhoods and embraces themes of power, heartbreak, racial justice and how to make peace with yourself. She spoke to Weekend Edition from London.

This interview has been edited and condensed. To hear the broadcast version of this conversation, use the audio player above.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Weekend Edition: I want to start with the song that your album is named after, "Skin."

Joy Crookes: The song is one I wrote after someone I was very close to felt like they didn't want to continue... life anymore, I guess. It was my way of telling them that life is worth living. How do I make this person that I love so much see the love I have for them – but by themselves?

This album, you can hear a lot of what moves you – I'm thinking of this song, "Feet Don't Fail Me Now."

I wrote this song because I was very interested in how people behave during a time of political turmoil. And, playing a character in the song who finds it easier to either be complicit or be performative in fear of speaking out ... because of things in our generation like cancel culture.

This character I'm playing, we're all guilty of being that. Including myself. There's always been a time where you come home and you practice in the mirror what you coulda shoulda woulda said – and I think the most important thing about progression, especially having to do with racism and injustice, we have to face ourselves before we face anyone else. That is the only way towards progression.

Joy Crooke's album Skin was released Oct. 14 – hear it below.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.

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