“Namu myōhō renge kyō.”
Chant it out loud. Speak it into existence. This mystic law of cause and effect through sound permeates through life, calling karma by its name, allowing my humanity to be tied to yours.
Vocal performance artist Sun BLVD lives by the Japanese Buddhist mantra, for it saved her from crippling losses of friendships that turned out to be superficial and an all-consuming depression. Buddhism was where Sunny permitted herself to change the root cause of her suffering, no matter how ugly the process. What lives now is a will so vibrant and a heart so compassionate to love and understand others. She is brimming with limitless potential.
Photos by jacq (@jacvillian) with edits by sunny herself (or SUN BLVD).
A jack of all trades and a master of herself, Sunny lives in her beauty as a black queer woman. Growing up, she felt overcast by the clouds of life, unaware of what those titles of Black, queer, and woman meant and how to manage the blessings and havoc those identities unveiled in her life. Finding the light in performance and the art of music allowed her to revel in her existence and take pride in the everyday struggle of life. Her faith is directly tied to that light—daily practice to fight for what you want and need every day. In the words of the artist herself, “There is no life with no struggle.”
Hence, the name Sunny was born after evolving throughout her years. Starting as little Taylor in Chicago, she struggled to find her roots in one place. At nineteen-year-old, she was overwhelmed with what being a black queer woman meant in a society that feeds itself off of boxing people into labels. She found confidence in herself to be the root of her existence after checking out of an outpatient center treating her depression, escaping the superficial attachment and necessity for material items that the world is so consumed by.
“This whole thing was birthed out of the need to love me,” Sunny said.
The name Sunny was born from that birth of self-love. Sunny coming from her ability to center herself instead of revolving around others and BLVD coming from her experiences of houses on a street she was evicted from. Sunny is a light to hang on to, and now it is paramount of her existence.
Meeting Sunny was like getting swept up in an emotional current so intense it left you breathless. Roaring laughter chimed through the social club as she envisioned her pop star dream coming to fruition. The shoulder pad of t-shirt soaked as tears trickled down smooth skin, reminiscing the fight to survive when everything was crashing down around her. A theater of emotion was exploding from her very being to teach us, to remind us, what it means to be human.
“Art is the way to touch people,” Sunny said. “I want to be able to open up debates and be open and help other people understand how vast we are as a people.”
There’s an art in the words and lyrics Sunny spins. It makes you want to revolve around her, be apart of her orbit. Stories are being told, and love is at the foundation of it all, whether it’s love for herself or others around. It’s an encouraging call you want to listen to; to be able to love yourself in a way you hadn’t before and trust in your ability to fight the everyday struggle and come out victorious and so confident in the essence of you.
“People hurt other people when they don’t love themselves,” Sunny said. Queue the art she creates that not only saved her in dark places but is meant to protect you, to ensure you love yourself, so there’s less hurt in the world.
With pop star dreams and fluid artistic energy, Sunny aims to mold her platform into one that holds people’s ear—makes them listen and influence change in a way other forms of art, politics, or religion might not be able to. For the work she creates is meant to be felt and heard in an ephemeral experience, not listened to and forgotten about in a splitting noise that drowns out what’s essential in life.
A story is sung by the sun, and people move to it. Sunny tells stories, a musical rendering of her life that she pieces together in transit to a destination she’s always searching to find. A performance everyone can relate to, an empathetic experience that touches souls.
“Performing is the best drug I’ve ever had,” Sunny said. “It’s so exhilarating to tell your experience and tell your life to an audience and see people understand it and move to it.”
That experience and connection are why Sunny is a performing artist, not a recording artist. She’s out on the stage for the primary purpose to keep herself grounded and be a light for someone else, to instill a core principle of happiness in where you are and who you are in the present. It’s an alignment of humanity and a message she wants to especially emphasize to the youth of the world.
Children are people that possess a limitless potential and a power that can’t be measured. Insightful in ways adults cannot be, Sunny urges everyone to feed the wonder they hold and bestow upon others. Speaking your truth, rather than talking down to youth is something that should be nurtured because it teaches us how to relate to and respect each other. The mind is the most potent asset, If you change that, then you can change your life and speak over the material events and struggles that are happening—a fortunate wonder.
“I want everybody to be fortune babies.”
Check out Sun BLVD and support her message here.