• Music

Meet Some Female Singers of Asian Heritage Who are Rocking the Music Scene

H.E.R. | Olivia Rodrigo | Saweetie | Ella Jay Basco | Beabadoobee

Bold, colorful, daring, original, individualistic, and talented – these are the new breed of female singers of Asian heritage who are making a name for themselves on the global music scene.


They express themselves confidently, passionately showing the world who they are through their songs, innovating and creating music from the heart.


We highlight some of these singers who are changing the face and shaping the future of music.




H.E.R., who became the first Filipina American to receive a Golden Globe nomination in 2021 in the Best Original Song category for her song “Fight for You” which she composed for the movie Judas and the Black Messiah, won this year’s Grammy Award (Best Traditional R&B Performance) for the same song.


In 2017, the performer’s first compilation album, H.E.R., won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Album. In 2021 her Grammy honors were for “I Can’t Breathe” (Song of the Year) and “Better Than I Imagine” (with Robert Glasper and Meshell Ndegeocello, Best R&B Song).


In our interview with her for the movie Judas and the Black Messiah in 2021, she talked about the influence of her Filipina mom, Agnes, from Vallejo, California.


“I will say my mom, she has always believed in me. She has always given me that support system, except for some of the times she said, ‘Hey, maybe you should be a nurse.’ Those are the only times (laughs).


“But no, my mom has always loved what I do and encouraged me. And we would have family parties and do karaoke and she always encouraged me to sing and step out of my comfort zone and just embrace my gifts. So, I’ve always had that foundation and that community of my Filipino heritage.


“But yeah, being a Black and Filipino woman, I’ve never really fit in anywhere. It’s not something you see all the time, especially in music, not really knowing where to fit in and trying to find my identity. But I found my voice as a blend of the two. I take a lot from my father’s culture, and I take a lot from my mother’s, but both have embraced me so much so I’m really thankful for that.”


When she recently accepted her Impact Award at Billboard’s 2022 Women in Music event, she dedicated her award again to her mom, according to Billboard.


“Shoutout to my Filipino mother, who’s in the house tonight,” H.E.R. said in her speech during the event held on March 2.


“I want to thank my mom for teaching me to stay humble, be grounded, and be hardworking. She always believed in me from day one. She was pregnant with my sister, rolling my heavy equipment to every performance she could possibly get me and that is the reason why I’m standing here today.”


“You are impacting so many other people, you have no idea, through me, just in giving me a voice. I’m now using my voice to give others a voice and to pave the way for other young women,” the four-time Grammy winner said.


“It never occurred to me to be an activist until I got older and started to realize how much hatred there is in the world,” she continued. “Obviously, in the beginning, it was a lot more about the music. Organically, however, people are starting to hear and see me more, to experience who I am and not just the music.


“So, with that comes my views on the world: how I felt in 2020 when everything was going on and is still going on. It’s a bigger fight, [so] it’s my responsibility to use what has an impact — my voice — to speak out on some of these things, like the relationship between Black Americans and Asian Americans. Not because someone told me to, but because it’s what I feel.”

Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo


Nineteen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo, who was born in Murietta, California and raised in Temecula, made her presence felt in the music world when she released her debut studio album, “Sour” (2021), for which she recently got three Grammy Awards, including the Best New Artist Award.


Time magazine named her the 2021 Entertainer of the Year while Billboard named her the “Woman of the Year” this year.


In the recently held Billboard Music Awards, Rodrigo won the Top Female Artist, Best New Artist, Hot 100 Artist, Streaming Songs Artist, Radio Songs Artist, Billboard Global 200 Artist, and Billboard 200 Album.


Rodrigo, whose father is Filipino American and whose mother is of German Irish ancestry, has stated that her paternal great-grandfather moved from the Philippines to the United States as a teenager and her family follows Filipino traditions and cuisine.


She starred as Nini in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and is inspiring other young Asian-Americans to pursue their dreams.


In an interview with People magazine in 2021, she said, “It actually makes me want to cry. It’s so touching. Representation in TV and media is so important. And I’m so glad that I can hopefully be an example for a little Asian girl out there, that they can do anything that they set their mind to.”




Born Diamonte Quiava Valentin Harper in Santa Clara, California, Saweetie began writing music at age 13.


The 28-year-old platinum rapper, who has a degree in communications from the University of Southern California, is the daughter of Trinidad Valentin who is of Filipina and Chinese heritage, and Johnny Harper, who is African American.


In 2021, she received two Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist. Her debut album, ‘Pretty B*tch Music,” is scheduled to be released this year. It was preceded by the singles “Tap In” and “Best Friend,” both of which reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.


In an interview with Teen Vogue in 2021, she said that education was a priority to her Filipino-Chinese mom. “My mom’s a tiger mom. She would make me rewrite homework assignments if she thought the penmanship was sloppy. She wanted straight A’s. Her disciplining me at a young age got me into the habit of achieving high goals.”

Ella Jay Basco

Ella Jay Basco


Ella Jay Basco is a singer-songwriter-actress who comes from a family of actors. The Basco brothers and sister – Dante, Derek (Ella’s dad), Dion, Darion, and Arianna – are all actors.


Basco’s debut album, “Middle School,” showcases her musical gifts. She co-wrote all the songs. She plays the guitar, piano, and ukulele. Her latest song and music video is “Bubble Tea.”


The song is a timely new anthem for the Asian American community and is perfect for May’s AAPI heritage month.


The fun, celebratory video is centered around the younger generation of the AAPI community and highlights the joy they find in simple pleasures despite the hate aimed at the group in a string of incidents.


“As someone who is proud of her Asian heritage, I wanted to find something that spoke directly to me and my peers but couldn’t find it anywhere so instead I wrote ‘Bubble Tea,’” said Basco. “I hope other Asian kids hear this song and join me in celebrating our joy.”


In 2021, Basco released the impactful music video for her first AAPI anthem “Gold” in response to the hate being directed at the community and to bolster pride in the face of the adversity and discrimination AAPI individuals face from all angles – from western beauty standards to racial stereotyping.


She also acted with Margot Robbie as Cassandra Cain in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).


In our interview with Basco in 2020, she said of working with Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Jurnee Smollett, “Working with Margot and the other ladies is a dream come true! They are so talented, kind, and smart. We had such a fun time working together that it didn’t even feel like work. While I connected with all of the ladies, the main connection I had was with Margot. We rapped with Cardi B, made hand games, and talked to each other like sisters.”


Basco is the oldest of three children of Filipino actor Derek Basco and Korean American Emily Cho.

Bea Kristi aka Beabadoobee

Bea Kristi aka Beabadoobee


Born in Iloilo City, Philippines, and raised in London, England, the 21-year-old moved to London with her parents at age three.


The singer-songwriter took violin lessons for seven years and then taught herself how to play a second-hand guitar at age 17, using YouTube tutorials.


She was nominated for the “Rising Star Award” at the 2020 Brit Awards and was presented with the Radar Award at the 2020 NME Awards.


She is known for her “space rock” (a mix of classic rock and bedroom pop).