"I'm finally making music I've always wanted to, and I'm not concerned about what people may think," Jessica Anne Newham, better known by her stage name Betty Who, tells me during a phone call ahead of the release of her first EP in five years, Betty Who Pt. 1.
"This EP is sort of a re-introduction to my fans, and in a lot of ways, myself."
Who debuted on the music scene in 2012 with her infectious single "Somebody Loves You." The track earned the singer praise from influential music outlets and tastemakers, but when the track was featured in a viral video of a flash mob marriage proposal between two men in a Salt Lake City Home Depot nearly a year later, "Somebody" became a viral sensation ultimately propelling to the top of Billboard's Dance/Club chart. Now, the single has become a gay wedding staple.
"Knowing that two people are celebrating their love for each other, with their family and friends, and want to commemorate that occasion with my song, out of all of the songs they could choose from, is fucking awesome," says Who. "That's what music is all about. Bringing people together, making memories, sharing special moments. It's just awesome."
Who attributes much of her success to the LGBTQ community and has become an ally. She's lent her voice to fundraising efforts by the Trevor Project and GLAAD and has showcased positive depictions of the gay community in her music videos such as in her new video for the deliciously catchy, "Taste." In the single's steamy video, Who plays with drag and gender roles.
"I don't think I'd have a career if it weren't for the LGBTQ community," Who says. "There were like 80 gay men at my first New York show. And that was it. I feel most at home within the [LGBTQ] community because it's a space where I can be myself, share my stories, vulnerabilities, and they can share theirs with me."
Netflix also noticed Who's queer eye. The network invited Who to remix the theme song to the Queer Eye reboot.
"I was so honored to be part of the Queer Eye remix. The show is such an important conversation change in how they educate people and spread love and acceptance. I'm so proud to be part of it."
In addition to Queer Eye, Who says she's also a fan of another show bringing LGBTQ stories to the screen—Pose.
"I actually went to school with [one of the show's stars] MJ Rodriguez. I'm so proud to see her shining, living her truth, and inspiring others to do the same on such an inspiring, important, and groundbreaking show."
Betty Pt. 1 is the first in a series of Who's conceptual new music unveiling. She'll drop a second EP this fall and a full-length album next year.
"The songs on this EP are very different from the tracks on my last record," says Who. "Each song has its own story to tell and they each portray parts of my personality I haven't explored or shared with my fans."