Atlanta R&B singer explores loss on debut EP, gets co-sign from Alicia Keys

DaVionne’s ‘Good Grief’ is out today.
Atlanta singer DaVionne released her debut project "Good Grief" on Feb. 16, 2024. The 24-year-old starred in the 2023 documentary "Uncharted," which offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of an Alicia Keys songwriting camp. Credit: Inari Briana

Credit: Inari Briana

Credit: Inari Briana

Atlanta singer DaVionne released her debut project "Good Grief" on Feb. 16, 2024. The 24-year-old starred in the 2023 documentary "Uncharted," which offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of an Alicia Keys songwriting camp. Credit: Inari Briana

When DaVionne entered middle school, she decided to try chorus. An Augusta native, DaVionne grew up singing in the church, but she knew she wanted to expand her skills beyond the four walls of the sanctuary.

But she quickly learned that, at the time, she creates best as a solo act.

“I remember (my chorus teacher) would always tell me to chill out. She was like, ‘You need to be a part of the chorus. This is not the DaVionne show.’ She would always say that. I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s crazy because it’s really my world for real.’”

At the core of DaVionne’s R&B-centered universe lies her piercing, folk-tinged voice that delivers bluesy songs about the intricacies of heartbreak. Such is the case on her debut project “Good Grief.” Released today, the 5-track EP follows DaVionne’s journey to healing following a breakup.

Augusta native DaVionne, 24, has participated in writing camps helmed by J. Cole and Alicia Keys. She dropped her debut EP on Feb. 16, 2024. She admits she still grappling the with having great success at a young age: "I'm learning to appreciate the small wins." Photo credit: Inari Briana

Credit: Inari Briana

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Credit: Inari Briana

She created the concept for the project in 2022, amid the ending of an on-again, off-again relationship she was in for roughly a year. For DaVionne, the relationship was her first real romance, so it was hard to let go.

“Suddenly not having access to this person anymore created this whole range of emotions, and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I was so hurt about this thing because it’s just a person,” she said.

After talking to her therapist, she learned that she was experiencing grief. She’d never heard someone talk about grief outside of physical death. That realization planted the seed for the album. DaVionne started researching the meaning of grief and its five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).

Each song on “Good Grief” mirrors one of those phases. “Twin Flame,” which reflects the depression stage, finds the Atlanta resident pondering whether she’s still on her ex’s mind: “Think of me, baby please. Keep us alive in your memories,” she croons.

“Don’t Go” represents the bargaining phase of a lover girl who’s unsure if her ex should remain in her past or dwell in her present. DaVionne said that was one of the hardest songs to complete.

“At that time (of making the song), I’m past the bargaining stage — I didn’t want my ex back. I had to put on my writer hat and really dive into those emotions. Through the breakup I journaled a lot, so I re-read those journals to find inspiration to see what I was feeling at that time or on that day.”

Atlanta singer DaVionne released her debut project "Good Grief" on Feb. 16, 2024. The album explores the five stages of grief. Photo credit: Luigi Rodriguez

Credit: Luigi Rodriguez

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Credit: Luigi Rodriguez

Journaling was her introduction to songwriting. As a kid, her mom gave her a journal to take notes during church services, and it turned into a habit where she’d journal her thoughts every day. She eventually transformed them into songs.

She started recording music at 13. She took guitar lessons, bought a laptop and learned how to produce songs. In high school, she braided hair to save for her musical pursuits. DaVionne uploaded songs to Soundcloud and built a following. In 2019, she was among the many writers involved in J. Cole’s “Revenge of the Dreamers III” camp in Atlanta.

Only 19 at the time, DaVionne didn’t think she’d make the album. She only contributed to two songs. One of them, “Sleep Deprived,” made the final cut. The album went on to be nominated for best rap album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Davionne later joined fellow Atlanta artist Baby Rose on tour shortly after the album’s release.

In 2021, she was approached with the idea of being in Alicia Keys’ songwriting camp through Keys’ organization She Is the Music, which empowers and creates opportunities for women in music.

Then she got a call from “Uncharted” director Beth Aala. The documentary filmmaker was going to follow some of the camp attendees for a year and learn more about their process. She wanted DaVionne to be among them. She loved the idea.

“So many times, you don’t actually see what it’s like for an independent artist, let alone an independent woman artist, let alone an independent Black woman artist,” she said.

Uncharted” premiered at Tribeca Film Festival last June. By that time, DaVionne had signed to Concord Records. The premiere ended with a special performance from Keys and the subjects in the documentary. DaVionne said Keys was so cool to work with that she didn’t get a chance to become starstruck.

Working in the camp taught DaVionne the art of collaboration and the process of having to re-write a song until it hits the right note.

“She made a brave space for me and the other women to say what we wanted to say,” she said of camp founder Keys, “even that was important for me because, sometimes as women, we’re told to not take up so much space. But when it comes to your craft, and you want to perfect it, you have to speak your mind.”

The experience made DaVionne more vocal in the creation of “Good Grief.” The album comes weeks after Universal Music Group, which distributes Concord Records, started pulling its music from TikTok. DaVionne said her team has talked about alternative ways to market her music, which includes posting short interviews of her talking about her new project and the meaning behind it.

But she’s adamant about not heavily relying on social media as a marketing strategy. She wants people to appreciate artistry that doesn’t go viral.

“As an artist in today’s time, they incentivize virality over development,” she said. “We spend so much time trying to acquiesce to society’s demands or TikTok abilities ... It’s like you don’t only have to be an artist, but you have to be a content creator. ...The platform holds a space, but it shouldn’t take up a whole room.”

As for new EP, DaVionne just hopes the music helps people become more comfortable with their emotions. At 24, the singer has had great successes, but she’s learning to approach everything with ease and patience: “I’ve gotten my craft to a space where I’m seasoned,” she notes.

“Life happens. Love and loss are a part of the same coin. I want people to understand that it’s important to go through the situation. So many times, we try to act like our emotions are not there. The only way to get through something is to go through it.”