The Story of Ari Lennox
A native of DC, Ari Lennox, real name Courtney Salter is an artist bringing soul back to popular music. The first female artist signed to Dreamville Records, she got a lot of attention from her EP Pho in 2016, but she really began releasing music online in 2009. Her debut mixtape, Five Finger Discount was released in 2013, but she would re-release it in 2015. Her debut Ariography would come out in 2013 as well. After working with Omen on his Elephant Eyes album in 2015, Lennox began working with J. Cole as a reference artist on some tracks for Rihanna.
She released her EP, Pho, in 2016 and she would go on to open for Cole on his 4 Your Eyez Only Tour in 2017
Lennox would go on to release a handful of singles before dropping her debut album, Shea Butter Baby in 2019, which would spawn singles Shea Butter Baby and BMO, which lead to her iconic Soul Train Awards performance. The project simultaneously sounded familiar and completely new, tapping into the sounds that many in her audience spent their childhood hearing. She would go on to release a remixed version of the project in 2020. From approximately March to December of 2019, Lennox would headline her own tour and participate in Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You Too Tour.
In 2020, Lennox would release another handful of singles, including “If You Want Me to Stay” with Anthony Ramos, and in 2021, she would release “Pressure” the first single from her album age/sex/location, which would become her first number one single, later she would release her second single from this project, “Hoodie.” age/sex/location in September of 2022 with features from Lucky Daye, Chloe and Summer Walker. The project is really like an updated version of Shea Butter Baby as it hits on a number of the same themes, but adds clarity and newfound wisdom.
It’s not just that Lennox shares a similar tonality to Erykah Badu that helped her secure a spot in soul and R&B history, it's the way that her music promotes frank honesty, much like the music of SZA, Chloe, Jhene Aiko, and Summer Walker. When discussing her own artistry, she would say, "Sometimes women are put in this box where we're only supposed to talk about certain things, I want to be braver and riskier. I think people want to hear that kind of honesty and frankness." Lennox cites Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Bilal, Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Amerie, Ciara, SWV, Mary J Blige, among many others, and soul singer Minnie Riperton as influences