Kehlani's new album explores their journey with mental health

The singer preaches self-love and introspective reflection on 'blue water road'
Kehlani
Photo credit (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
By , Audacy

Kehlani’s highly anticipated album blue water road is finally here! Featuring artists like Justin Bieber, Thundercat and Jessie Reyez, it has the perfect oceanic vibe to reel in the warm weather. Speaking about the album, Kehlani said, “blue water road is a destination in my mind. I’m giving everyone access. It’s an emotional journey, a sexual journey, and a spiritual journey. To me, the album is like a glass house. It’s light, transparent, and the sun is shining right through it.”

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Like many of us, Kehlani has struggled with mental health throughout their life but has only used that struggle to make them stronger. blue water road is a manifestation of the positive energy and light that Kehlani has found within themself.

As part of our I’m Listening initiative, we wanted to highlight moments when Kehlani has been an inspirational pillar of self-love, healing and mental wellness.

In conjunction with their album, Kehlani is releasing an episodic documentary about their introspective journey making blue water road. The first episode, titled “love for self” features Kehlani discussing music as a safe space for honesty and self-reflection. Speaking about the differences between their debut album, SweetSexySavage, their previous album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, and blue water road, the singer said, “I can tell how far I’ve come, mentally and emotionally, from just the place I was in in my other projects. I used to clown how happy and bright I felt in my first album, the contrast in my second album is so dark and I felt like that was more cool and more mature. Now that I’m back in a really bright space and I’m older, it doesn’t feel corny to me. As an artist we walk through a lot of, like, ‘does happiness feel corny to me?’ To me, when I listen back now, [blue water road] feels almost like my deepest songs but they’re not the big sad, giant ballads. They’re sweet, happy ones, but they’re the deepest emotions I’ve felt.”

Recently, Kehlani has had a lot to celebrate in life. In March of 2019, the singer gave birth to their daughter, Adeya Nomi, who is being raised in an incredibly loving and thoughtful environment. Kehlani recently appeared on Vogue’s “24 Hours” series with Adeya, telling Vogue, “It’s important to let her try all the things that she wants to do. I was able to do everything that I wanted to do and try all these different things, because my mom knew the importance of it and that’s why I grew up to wear so many hats I think.”

The singer also opened up about their relationship with their own parents, saying, “my mother’s an addict, always in and out. My father passed when I was one. My aunt raised me. This internal battle with like, ‘where do I actually belong?’ ‘Who's my family?’ My childhood was completely lacking in stability. I for sure feel like I belong now, I mean I’ve created my belonging, if that makes sense. I think that I struggled with that because I was a child and all you know is the people around you that love you. When you’re older, the definition of family changes so much.”

Kehlani surrounds themself and Adeya with supportive and loving friends who the singer considers family. Kehlani identifies as non-binary, using she/they pronouns, and is making sure that Adeya is growing up with the agency to identify however she chooses. Speaking with Advocate about raising Adeya, Kehlani said, “all my friends, all her aunties, uncles, her godparents, everybody is just loudly queer. Our generation already kind of broke the mold of getting to that point, so I don't even think our kids are going to think about it as something that they have to identify and differentiate. I feel it should be normal. We’ll be reading queer stories, queer books where the baby has two dads, two moms, two parents who don’t identify as either. Movies that have that. She sees healthy queer couples. So, I don’t think that she’s going to even think about it as, this is different from normal."

Voices like Kehlani’s are incredibly important in shaping the next generation of shakers and groundbreakers. The singer celebrated their 27th birthday this past Sunday, April 24th, and shared a note to themself on Instagram, reading, “Dear 27 year old Kehlani Ashley, You feel different. We are all working to become someone our child-selves would be proud of, and someone that same child needed. Little you would not only be proud, but would be in awe of you now. You are relentlessly curious, whimsically wide-eyed, you believe in magic again. You are fearless, your bravery is unwavering, you do things even when you’re scared. You are tender and soft, getting sweeter by the second, but finally to yourself… You’re finally who you always dreamed of.”

This sweet note is a reminder to us all to always be proud of our growth, no matter where we are on our journey. Thank you Kehlani for embracing individual authenticity and always preaching self-love.

Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

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