Malaysian soul singer Yuna sits down with TheGrio

Singer songwriter, Yuna, is a former protégé of Pharrell whose voice transcends genres and language barriers...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Singer songwriter and businesswoman, Yuna, is a former protégé of Pharrell whose voice transcends genres and language barriers.

Born Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, The 27 year-old singer, has released multiple albums in her native Malaysia and over the world.

The international star sat down with theGrio for our alternative music spotlight of the week, to discuss  lessons from Pharrell, and how her music transcends racial boundaries.

TheGrio: Your output over the past years for has been at a heavy rate that’s lead to your music being enjoyed by all. What do you attribute your passion to?

Coming out here to the states… it was like starting from scratch. You really have to believe in your craft, because there will always be people criticizing you. But you have to tough it out and do what you do.

TG: After breaking out of your country, Pharrell was one of the early supporters of your music who’s been having a big year himself. Talk to me about any words of wisdom

He’s not on this album, but working with Pharrell definitely exposed me to the hip hop world and how to make your pop music sound more interesting by fusing different music together.

TG: Were you intimidated?

Yuna: Not at all, he really respected my craft, and my personality. But at the same time, he pushed me into exploring different music, and I appreciate that. Working with Pharrell, I saw it as a student teacher thing. He shared a lot of knowledge with me.

I was just grateful to be in the same room with him and watch him make music; he’s just so smart. Seeing him build a song with just the piano and beats strings and synths. It’s refreshing to see someone so talented, it’s inspiring..

TG: Aside from gathering awards in Europe and Malaysia, you’re known to be business savvy and fashionable. you’ve been selected to be one of new faces for G-Star’s RAW campaign.

Yuna:   Yes definitely. Their offices from Europe wanted me to make a music piece for their campaign and I’m excited to be a part of it. – Fashion has always been a passion of mine so my work with G-Star has been good.

TG: What’s one piece of advice you’d leave for your fans?

Yuna: When it comes to learning your craft, I think you need to have the attitude of a student rather than a teacher. Always be a student for life. You can’t be out there thinking you know everything about everything. There’s always something someone out there willing to teach you. Always stay humble.

You can check out Kyle’s musical coverage on theGrio music page, and follow Kyle on Twitter at @HarveyWins.