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R&B singer Alina Baraz on her new song 'Keep Me in Love'

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

The R&B songstress Alina Baraz loves that her family believes in her.

ALINA BARAZ: My grandma will call me all the time. And she's, like, convinced that if she keeps playing my music on YouTube that it's going to, like, support my income directly.

RASCOE: But Alina Baraz didn't always believe in herself. Writing songs used to terrify the singer, whose first language isn't English. Her parents immigrated to Ohio from Ukraine, so she grew up speaking Ukrainian and hearing a lot of classical music.

BARAZ: My parents both played piano, so they're both classically trained. And I remember I discovered Lauryn Hill and Corinne Bailey Rae. When I heard those singers, I knew what I was going to do.

RASCOE: Baraz knew she wanted to become a singer. She told her classmates, and they thought it was a joke. But when Baraz told her mother, she took her seriously, and they soon left for Los Angeles. The singer has gone on to release an album and five EPs. The 29-year-old has learned to believe in herself as her introspective lyrics and silky harmonies have attracted fans around the world. A key to her success has been not allowing other people to define who she is, a big theme in her new love song, "Keep Me In Love."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP ME IN LOVE")

BARAZ: (Singing) My love for me, it runs so deep. How could someone ever match my energy enough?

In my life, I've kind of always felt like an outsider wherever I go. Even when I came to school, everyone was American. And it wasn't cool to be foreign. And so at that point, I felt like an outsider. I didn't really relate to anyone around me. And so it's kind of more just a thought, a reoccurring thought for me. We pour so much time and energy and love and intention into ourselves, and I constantly wonder if or when I could run into someone that would do the same for me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP ME IN LOVE")

BARAZ: (Singing) I need it for me, for me. My love, won't give it all up for free.

The song started with the first line that you hear, my love for me, it runs so deep. I had that in my notepad for a long time. It kind of formed by itself. As soon as I heard the chords, I knew immediately. I don't really go into sessions thinking, like, what do I want to make? It's just, as soon as the chord hits, I just know.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP ME IN LOVE")

BARAZ: (Singing) I want someone, someone who gets me, gets me the world. I need to believe that there is someone, someone to keep me, keep me in love. I need it for me.

I value everything I do for myself and the time and effort I put into that. And so whether or not someone can do that for me, I think I've just never really asked this question before. And I think I've just evolved as a human. I think I'm just more stern and stable, and knowing what I want and what I need.

RASCOE: Self-care has never sounded so smooth. That was Alina Baraz talking about her new song, "Keep Me In Love." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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