by Avane Ervin
Courtney Shanade Salter also known as “Ari Lennox” is an American lyricist, singer, songwriter, and social media influencer. She was born in Northern Virginia on March 26, 1991 and later moved to Washington D.C., where she spent most of her childhood and adolescent years. She began singing in the 3rd grade and ever since. Ari prefers her parents information to be disclosed as she feels her personal life does exude who she is as an artist. Ari’s stage name was influenced by the character from The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox.
Ari Lennox began her career as a professional musician in 2010 with her mixtape called, “Five Finger Discount”. This mixtape generated a small buzz so she began to create more music and the Ariography EP in 2012. Two years later, Ari found herself working with hip-hop artist J.Cole’s Interscope-affiliated Dreamville label through Revenge of the Dreamers II hit song, “Backseat.” She then worked closely with J. Cole and other artists from his label on several features and EP’s. In 2015, she signed with J.Cole’s Dreamville label and began creating more singles. From there, her name gained more recognition as she became the first female artist to sign with J. Cole’s label.
“I’m so thankful for ‘Backseat’ because it’s doing so much. It’s almost at two million listens on Spotify. It’s changed my life. It was the song that Dreamville really pushed and they just really made it explode, and I’m just so thankful.” – Ari Lennox
Lenox released her first album in 2019, Shea Butter Baby.This album includes eleven tracks that are a culmination of Lennox’s sexuality, spirituality, personal experiences and traumas, as well as her journey to becoming an artist. Songs from this album appeared on the Creed II soundtrack with Cole on a track entitled “Shea Butter Baby” on November 16, and generated even more buzz for her name. This specific track was accompanied by her first solo debut music video in February 2019 and surpassed more than 3 million views on YouTube within the first week. Lennox went on several tours in the same year performing in places and cities all over the United States.
“I’m always going to take an experience and a fire beat and marry it all together with adult melodies. I try to paint, just like Frank Ocean paints with his lyrics. I try in similar ways to paint my life into these songs.”- Ari Lennox
In the year(s) 2020-2021, Lennox has worked with several artist putting out various hit singles and complimenting their albums. Although she has not released an album since 2019, Lennox continues to make music with other artists. After being nominated for a grammy for 2019 Best R&B/Soul Female Artist and Best Album of the Year, she did not win and vowed to her Instagram followers that she would not be making music for a while. In 2021 Lennox featured on R&B artist, Jazmine Sullivan’s album Heaux Tales helping her surpass more than 46 million streams on Youtube, Apple Music, and Spotify. Since then, Lennox has made several hints to her instagram followers that she will be making more of her own music in the year 2021.
Soul Train Music Awards 2019
Ari Lennox openly speaks about her personal life, depression, anxiety disorder, and weight gain/loss journey to her Instagram followers as well as other social media platforms. She has become widely accepted for her authenticity and vulnerability through her social media photos and verbal interactions.
Ari Lennox’s impact on R&B brings a soulful reminder to today’s audience. Through her vibrant personality, vulnerability in music, and explicitness, more artist are following the trend about speaking about their lives free of fluff. Lennox is an underrated artist who deserves more recognition and respect in the music industry. She has brought forth a new style to womanhood in music that tells us we can be sexy, crazy, cool, and educated.
“Ari Lennox: Biography & History.” AllMusic, www.allmusic.com/artist/ari-lennox-mn0003462621/biography.
Hyman, Dan. “Ari Lennox Is Anxious To Drop Her Debut: ‘It’s Time’.” Billboard, 25 Apr. 2019, www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/8506731/ari-lennox-shea-butter-baby-debut-interview.
Flynn, Liz, et al. “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ari Lennox.” TVOvermind, 3 Oct. 2019, www.tvovermind.com/ari-lennox/.
Martin, Michel, and Janaya Williams. “Ari Lennox Has Always Felt Slept On. That’s What Motivates Her.” NPR, NPR, 25 Aug. 2019, www.npr.org/2019/08/25/753759126/ari-lennox-has-always-felt-slept-on-thats-what-motivates-her.
Shultz, Alex. “Q&A: Ari Lennox Released the Year’s Strongest R&B Album Thus Far.” GQ, 19 Feb. 2019, www.gq.com/story/ari-lennox-interview.
Spanos, Brittany. “Ari Lennox’s Rejection-Paved Road to ‘Shea Butter Baby’.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 1 Oct. 2019, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/ari-lennox-interview-shea-butter-baby-lizzo-tour-881895/.