If you ask Brianna Castro about her journey into music, she’ll liken it to a serendipitous string of good fortune. The 27-year-old North Philadelphia native didn’t plan her path to becoming the singer-songwriter she is today, but everything about the journey felt right as it fell into place.

 

While she has always loved singing from youth, Brianna was the outlier when it came to musical inclinations within her family. No one else seemed to be into the things she was: basketball, running track, and music. She slowly honed into the latter by playing in the school band and singing in the church choir, which ultimately gave her a nudge towards her performance destiny. In choir she used to shine during her solos, and would get all the due praise because of it. “I knew I had it a little bit when I was getting the solos and they were like, oh shit, you sound good on this,” she says. The songwriting came at age 15. Brianna was already good at classes like English and creative writing. Once it clicked that she could put words to melodies, she was hooked. Songwriting, she says, is the best way to express exactly what she’s feeling, and how she’s feeling it.

 

From there, Brianna tuned her voice to the sounds of Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill religiously—“MTV Unplugged is the reason why I bought an acoustic guitar,” she says—and tapped into the woozy grit of her voice by casually listening to Tupac, and other rap artists her older brothers would play. The result (in addition to handiwork from Andrew “Pop” Wansel, the key producer who helped her find her way to Interscope) is what listeners today have heard on the backing vocals of Tory Lanez’s “Question Is” and her own “Handsome”: what she considers an R&B, soul and hip-hop fusion. Castro makes music for any space—around the house, at a barbecue—and listeners from Gen X, Y and Z can all appreciate her elastic subject matter. Aside from the occasional number about trifling lovers, her songs run the gamut of real life human experiences: sometimes her own, sometimes not.

 

Now, after putting in work on Philly stages and in the studio, Brianna has a singular goal with her forthcoming music: to be unforgettable. “People go back to their [favorite artist’s] first album for everything,” she says. “I want my first album to be like, Oh shit, she came out the gate with some fire. A REAL classic. Gotta set the bar for myself to do better.”