At Work: Acantha Lang
Acantha Lang’s musical talent was apparent from an early age, but it wasn’t until she moved to New York that she found the right community to help her flourish. “My hometown, New Orleans, is a musical city, so I believe that it was always in my bones,” she says while checking in from her current flat in London. “It just needed to be awakened, and that happened in New York.”
After performing at the Harlem Grill alongside accomplished R&B session musicians, Lang was selected to be the first female MC at New York cabaret hotspot The Box. “It was amazing,” she reflects. “All the celebrities came there. I used to be on after Reggie Watts so we’d be backstage shooting the shit before he took the stage. We’re still friends, and The Box was a big part of my New York experience.”
That gig ultimately led her to London, where she formed her own band, polished her sound, assisted in opening The Box’s U.K. sister venue and released her 2021 debut EP, Sugar Woman. Her first project—inspired by the film Searching for Sugar Man—showcases her ability to blend Stax-inspired funk with Southern blues, delivering head on lyrical vignettes that take on a mix of contemporary topics.
Lang also built a dedicated following during the COVID-19 pandemic through her online series, Standing on the Shoulders Of…, where she churns out classic soul covers. Her exceptional take on Nina Simon’s “I Wish I Knew How I Would Feel to Be Free” landed her a McDonald’s TV spot in Europe, where she cut her full-length 13-track debut, Beautiful Dreams.
Lang’s unique perspective and authentic, intentional voice have already won her accolades. The singer was accepted into the Recording Academy’s 2022 member class, and her latest single, “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” was on the first-round ballots for three Grammy nominations.
“It’s all a journey, a process— you have to be open to it and flexible with it,” Lang muses. “The great songwriters that I’ve been in rooms with take the time to pay attention to what they are feeling in the moment. Bruno Major does that well. I learned a lot about crafting words and imagery to tell stories from him. Writing songs that have depth and authenticity is the goal. I want to make people feel inspired and hopeful because we’ve all been through things in our lives. If I can make music that moves people, then I’m winning.”