Lulu Fall, a rising jazz vocalist and Broadway singer, is easily distinguishable by her bright pink hair, but that’s not the only thing that stands out about this D.C. native. Fall is currently rising in popularity because of her recently released single, Pretty For a Dark Girl, a joint venture with Kris Johnson. With undeniable musical talent and a passion for social issues, Fall has garnered quite a bit of attention.
Fall was raised in Washington D.C. as the daughter of Senegalese and Cameroonian immigrants. From the young age of six years old, she attended contemporary dance classes and dreamt of becoming an actor. While in attendance at D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Fall discovered jazz, falling in love with artists like Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday, among others. Fall later obtained a degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University. Upon moving to New York, Fall became a regular ensemble member in both Broadway and off-Broadway musicals. She appeared in the popular musical Hair and is currently an ensemble member of the Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. With her strong musical theater background, Lulu has independently released two EPs: 2009’s It’s Official and 2015’s Heal: Part 1, a collaboration with James Theory.
This year, Fall will release her third project, The Unpaved Road. Kris Johnson, an arranger and trumpeter with the Count Basie Orchestra, is set to collaborate with Fall on the album. Though Fall has performed jazz all over the world — she was a finalist in the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Jazz Competition — she is becoming popular in large part because of her unflinching attitude toward colorism. The first single from the album, Pretty for a Black Girl, was inspired by Fall’s experiences as a dark-skinned blacoman. According to Fall, she was teased as a child because of her African ancestry and her skin color. Compliments were always couched in qualifiers, like the one described in the song’s title. In writing this song, Fall draws not only from her own life, but also the lives of her family and friends.
The song is frank, poignant, and uplifting. Far from being a cynic portrayal of how colorism harms black women, Fall’s lyrics instead reaffirm the innate beauty of dark-skinned women. The song is rooted in classic jazz yet offers a message that will resonate with modern audiences of all skin tones.
Lulu and Kris Johnson’s joint album The Unpaved Road will be released on August 22, 2017.