If someone had told Chioma Ai Bendors Illozor that she was going to be the next big thing in the music industry, she probably wouldn’t have believed them. But that was before her career as Ai Bendr took shape. Growing up in Michigan with her multi-cultural family, Chioma’s interest in music wasn’t initially supported by her immigrant parents and her only real exposure was through the radio. Discouraged from pursuing it beyond a hobby, she even got scolded for singing around the house.
As a teenager, Chioma was finally able to independently nurture her craft while attending boarding school in Massachusetts. It was here that she taught herself how to play the piano and started writing and producing songs that she would eventually go on to record. Performing at open mics instilled Chioma with the confidence to actively pursue music which led her to the comments section on Instagram to network. As fate would have it, this is where she was found by her manager, and after meeting offline they sealed the deal. Chioma’s persistence… finally paying off.
Not long after that, she started working on her breakout singles “Love Me Low” (soon to be featured on HBO’s Euphoria) and “Runaway” under the stage name Ai Bendr. For her, every song comes directly out of an experience or a feeling that she’s trying to explore on a deeper level. There’s a strong sense of intimacy as she gets vulnerable with the listener and pours her heart out on the mic. “A lot of the lyrics in the songs are inspired by my desire to make this music thing happen,” she explains. “Music is really something that made me want to continue living. It’s the one thing that I know will always make me happy which is why I'm so determined for this to work out.”
Ai Bendr describes the vibe of her sonic palette as a blend that intersects the fundamentals of R&B, pop, and alternative music that is a reflection of her unique and multi-faceted style. During the pandemic, she spent the majority of her time in quarantine writing and producing the songs that will be featured on a forthcoming project. The music was passed along to an A&R at Interscope Records and at the end of 2020, Ai Bendr was siged to the major record label. Now that her ultimate dream is coming to fruition and she has her parents’ full support behind her, all that Ai Bendr wants is for her own music to speak to people in the same way that it has done for her.
“I hope when people listen to my music they can develop a more personal connection,” she says. “I just want to add to people's life… I want to be like an extra bit of good in my own little way.”