Through my computer screen, I immediately sensed 30-year-old R&B artist Devon Gilfillian’s calm temperament. There was something special about the way he expressed his thoughts on taking care of yourself but also recognizing your place in the world.
Influenced by his Philly roots, Gilfillian was brought up dreaming of playing guitar on tour and perfecting his craft. It wasn’t until a big move to Nashville that Gilfillian found himself writing his own songs when his current manager and mentor, John, assured him that his vision was worth pursuing.
A commonality across all attendees of Gilfillian’s virtual press conference was feeling imprisoned in our own homes over the past few months but also exploring newfound hobbies and skills. Gilfillian explained that he is using this time to rest and reflect after a stretch of extensive touring. He feels particularly empowered when exploring elements of production and doing things on his own, for himself.
“This time is so precious that we have right now that we will never get a moment like this again to sit and reflect,” Gilfillian admits.
As a Black artist, Gilfillian believes it is essential to narrate the battle against social injustices. The recent activism inspires him to write music out of frustration of leadership dehumanizing people and building up barriers. Current events forced him to reimagine what being a musician means for him and how he can reach his fans in the virtual space.
“As an artist, that’s what we’re here for — is to create love in the world. That is what my mission is, and in order to do that we have to fight racism,” Gilfillian adds.
Gilfillian’s favorite line from “The Good Life” — “All the colors show us what it really means / To be beautiful” — embodies how different backgrounds and cultures allow for humans to connect with one another. This sentiment is one he holds close to his heart as fear and frustration continue to permeate the lives of minority groups in America.
Gilfillian’s spectacular debut album Black Hole Rainbow divulges themes of both heartbreak and hardship to create an authentic story powered by inner strength and deep vulnerability.
“Through darkness and through really messed up times we come out the other end stronger if we’re present — that’s what I wanted to portray in the record,” Gilfillian mentions.
At the end of the day, Gilfillian is a humble activist who utilizes the power of music to connect people on a spiritual level. Myself along with other lucky attendees walked away with soulful advice on how to rip off the bandaid and start anew.
For now, Gilfillian will celebrate his album release by perfecting his personal ramen recipe and being grateful for the moment we are in. The musician is also embarking on his journey to emotional health by attending therapy and practicing self-care to ensure he is rejuvenated and ready for what’s to come.