IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Artist Arlo Parks blazes a path for Black queer musicians

Parks snagged two Grammy nominations this year in the best new artist and best alternative album categories.
NBC News / Getty Images

In honor of Pride Month, NBC Out is highlighting and celebrating a new generation of LGBTQ trailblazers, creators and newsmakers. Visit our full #Pride30 list here.

British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks earned two Grammy nominations this year for her 2021 debut album, “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” about happiness, heartbreak and sadness.   

Although the awards went to St. Vincent and Olivia Rodrigo, respectively, Parks, 21, who is bisexual, has made it clear that she is just getting started. 

Parks, whose real name is Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, has been releasing indie pop songs to the masses since she was a teenager. She was raised in London and is of Nigerian and Chadian-French descent. Some of Park’s most critically acclaimed work, like “Black Dog,” which is also from her debut album, discusses mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. 

In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Park said she uses music as an outlet to cope with life’s challenges. 

“I started making music to work through difficult things, and that’s kind of my instinct, so I kind of never really filter myself,” she told “Good Morning America.” “And I think that you should have a little bit of nerves when you put out a song — it should feel a little bit close to the bone, because then it means you’re saying something real.”

Parks came out as bisexual as a teenager, a moment she described as liberating in a 2019 interview with The Line of Best Fit

“Coming out as bisexual was freeing in a way, because it allowed me to talk about experiences and feelings about certain things and people that I didn’t feel able to before,” Parks told the music site The Line of Best Fit. “Obviously there’s still judgment and it’s still taboo, and I didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself as the bisexual artist; that’s just a part of who I am.”

Parks also said got full support from her parents for her LGBTQ identity. The experience, she said, made her an outlier among her peers. 

“They were just like, ‘OK, we love you,’” she told the U.K. news site The Independent last year. “And I’m so grateful for that. I learned a lot of empathy and openness from my parents. I know so many people who don’t have that experience. I have friends who’ve been kicked out of their homes over it.”

As a Black LGBTQ artist, Parks continues to grab awards. Last year, she won the BRIT Award for best new artist and the Mercury Prize for “Collapsed in Sunbeams.”

“It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get here,” Parks told the audience at an awards ceremony for the Mercury Prize, according to Variety. “There were moments when I wasn’t sure if I would make it through, but I’m here today.” 

Parks’ recently released single “Softly,” which debuted this year, is about reconciling and coming to terms with the ending of a relationship.

Follow NBC Out on TwitterFacebook & Instagram