Our New Girl Group Obsession, Citizen Queen, Dish on Their Iconic Kehlani Cover
Citizen Queen, the fabulous a cappella quintet made up of Cora Isabel, Nina Nelson, Hannah Mrozak, Kaylah Sharve' and Kaedi Dalley, is one girl group you should absolutely not be sleeping on in 2020.
These incredibly talented women recently made waves with their cover of Kehlani's "Everybody Business," which won praise from the inimitable Kehlani herself, and we're sure it'll wow you, too. Seriously—their a cappella tracks are so rich with sound that your brain won't even understand that they don't have any backing instruments.
We simply had to get to know all about these talented ladies, and we were blessed with the opportunity to do so. Keep reading to find out how the group was assembled, what inspired the flawless cover and what keeps them making music together even when they can't be together.
Sweety High: How did Citizen Queen form as a group, and what are the roles within the group?
Citizen Queen: We were formed by audition two years ago, by the creators of Pentatonix and Scott Hoying, a member of Pentatonix. Most of us had never met beforehand—but a month after, we got an email saying we made it in, and we were living in an Airbnb together! A week into having actually met and making music together, we knew something about us clicked.
Right now, we are a cappella. Nina is soprano, Kaylah is alto, Hannah is mezzo, Kaedi does bass and Cora beatboxes.
(Photo credit: Luka Fontana)
SH: What inspired you to cover Kehlani's "Everybody Business?"
CQ: We love her. Kehlani has a pen game above the rest and her melodies are insane. The R&B she creates is what we aspire to make. And we won't lie—we definitely wanted Kehlani to hear us sing one of our favorite songs of hers. Seeing her call our cover "Beautiful ♥️" was an insane notification to wake up to.
SH: What is it about the song that resonated with the group, and made you all want to share your own take on the track?
CQ: This is one of our favorite songs of hers. The chorus on this track is actually an ode to an older Pharrell song called "Frontin'"—a song we love as well. This track was a perfect combination of modernity and nostalgia.
We also knew we could kill those melodies—we've been singing our own twists on it ever since it came out.
SH: What do you feel you added to the song to make it your own?
CQ: We had an initial fear as to whether or not we could pull this off without instrumentation or the 808's and still keep the same vibe. Cora and Kaedi kept that same energy (and an energy unique to us) with the beatboxing and bass. All of us have totally different backgrounds that have made our voices and vocal choices super unique, so each riff, each melody modification, our collective pocket, all have that CQ watermark.
SH: How has the pandemic changed the way you make music, if at all? Has it been a challenge, especially as a group of five?
CQ: As soon as quarantine started, we flew to our hometowns. We were all living in L.A. before that—but the spikes were definitely a concern. We are from all over the country: New York, California, Wisconsin, Texas and Missouri! Releases and huge new projects that we had planned with our amazing label, RCA, were put on pause. But that wasn't going to stop us. We arranged, recorded and shot the music video for the song all while apart from each other and socially distanced. We're so proud of ourselves for keeping that same CQ quality while rising to this unprecedented challenge.
SH: Are there any artists that are particularly inspiring you during these unusual times?
CQ: Chloe x Halle, Kehlani, Victoria Monét, Brandy, Rosalía, Rema, Santi, BTS, BENEE, Justine Skye, Ariana Grande, John Mayer, Masego, En Vogue, Fleetwood Mac, Mac Ayres, Lady Gaga, SZA, Kacey Musgraves, Yebba, Beyoncé, Smino, Amine, whew—the list goes on and on! These artists have always inspired us, but we've needed them now more than ever. Music is our therapy in these trying times.
SH: What differentiates Citizen Queen from the other girl groups out there today?
CQ: Who we are individually is what makes us unique! We're all from different backgrounds with a variety of musical inspirations, from jazz to gospel to R&B. We're from all over the country and we have lived very different lives. In a time like 2020, it is of utmost importance that people gather perspectives from those unlike themselves to truly understand those differences and embrace them. We exercise this principle every day. We take a lot after the girl groups before us, but there hasn't been a combination of girls quite like this one.
SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
CQ: Keep your eye out for something big coming very soon!
We know it's not Wednesday yet, but Citizen Queen are definitely Woman Crush material. Click HERE for our favorite Woman Crush Wednesday captions to celebrate the amazing women in your life.