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Krisheena Suarez is no stranger to music. It’s been a major part of her life since she was a young girl, growing up in church and singing in the school choir.

At age 15, she moved away from her parent’s home in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, to Tulsa, Oklahoma to live with her older sister and attend Central High School’s magnet program for music. There she was trained in jazz, classical and musical theater. In 2013, she was introduced to a less structured style of music and performing.

“I think it wasn’t until Cypher 120 when I got into the realm of being with other creatives, that it was so good for me because everything was improv.” Saurez told the Black Wall Street Times.  

Embracing Creativity, Finding Love, and Fire in Little Africa (FILA)

Her first-time attending Cypher 120 challenged her as an artist because of her years of formal and classical training. “One thing being trained, I was always in a box,” Suarez said. “Being at Cypher 120 was a way for me to experiment and explore the different facets of exactly what it is to be an artist.”

Saurez compared her growth as an artist to peeling the layers off an onion. “It’s like removing layers as far as like the training goes, because sometimes it’s so hard for me to step away from technique, and just be and just create, like, it’s okay if it doesn’t sound correct or what I deem is correct or have been taught is correct.” She added. 

Suarez met her husband, Devonte, aka IamDES, at Cypher 120 in 2013. She mentioned him being a major part of her growth as an artist because of their different artistry styles. “When it comes to art, in creating, he’s very open, like he’s open to ideas. He’s spontaneous,” she said.

  “He has been a heavy influence as far as the non-judgmental space. I feel like I’ve never been good at that, because I’ve been so stuck into a box, but I can say that’s something that I’ve gotten a lot better with, as a creative because there’s  no right or wrong answer.” 

FILA album

Suarez, and IamDes were two of over 50 artists selected from around the state of Oklahoma to participate in the Fire In Little Africa recording process in March 2020.

Their song, “Young and Free,” which features Chris the God MC Cain and Written Quincy, was selected on the released version of the album, which released in May, 2021.

The recording process for the album lasted four days, and Saurez eluded to how nervous she was when she found out she was selected.

“They talked about the format in which everything was going to be created and recorded. And I was like, dang, so we only got three to four days.” She told the Black Wall Street Times. “I remembered showing up like the first day, I was trying to figure out okay, so where do I fit?” she said.

Despite her nervousness on day one of recording, she mentioned that by day two, her confidence began to grow.

Eddie Washington grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, matriculating through Tulsa Public Schools. He graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in Journalism. He was a contributing writer for the OU...