African Music Culture

Libianca Fonji, the Cameroonian American Behind Viral ‘People’ Hit

Libianca Fonji people
Written by Teresa Mwangi

‘People’, a soulful hit song with a touch of Afrobeats rocked in early 2023 and the artist behind it is Libianca Fonji.

Before this song went out, she was little-known. Now, the Cameroonian American artist is the face of afrosoul music who fans want more from. Many mistook her for an upcoming Nigerian artist when she released this hit on December 6, 2022. It hit the airwaves in January 2023 and months later, her debut song opened new doors for her in her music career.

Who is Libianca Fonji People?

She is a Cameroonian American born in 2000 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Cameroonian parents.  The ‘People’ hitmaker moved back to Cameroon when she was four together with her brother and stayed for nine years. The US-based artist returned to Minnesota when she was 13 and has since been here.

When Did Libianca Start Singing?

Libianca Fonji People song

Libianca Fonji. Photo/YouTube

Libianca Fonji breakout hit ‘People’ goes back to when she was six in Cameroon. This is when she discovered that she loved singing, thanks to her nanny at the time.

“I remember my first babysitter. I was around five or six or something in Cameroon. She would be walking around and cleaning the house, and she would start singing. I just felt something whenever she sang, and I was like, “I want to be able to feel that way on my own.” So I just sang from there,” Rolling Stone quotes her during an interview.

At 10 and 11 years old, Libianca started writing songs. By the time she returned to the US at 13, she had several songs written and kept writing more when in Minnesota. She participated in chorus and a lot of other school-related musical activities.

When she was 15 she landed a year-long local record deal, a feeling she describes as awesome. It is here that she gained a lot of knowledge about recording and music engineering, and at that point she decided to mix her vocals.

Years later, the 23-year-old fully mastered music mixing and engineering which gave her the confidence to do bigger and better things. Armed with confidence and hope, she made to The Voice 2021 season with Blake Shelton as her vocal coach. Already, Libianca was a hot cake with John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande all gunning for her but she picked Shelton.

How Did Libianca Fonji Come Up With Her Song People?

She originally sang “People,” into a dangling microphone on a colours video that went viral on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.  Unknown to many is that it was an expression of her lowest moment in life battling depression.

Libianca admits writing the song when she felt invisible and unheard. No one knew what was happening in her life because she always put a fake smile while dying deep inside. She recalls an incident where she had her friends over to her place for a night party but she locked herself in the bathroom and cried out her emptiness.

But when she returned to the party area, she switched to a happy soul and did rounds of shots with her friends just to mask off her loneliness. ‘People’ is captivating and a classic masterpiece ideally, tackling a societal subject.

Libianca Fonji

Libianca Fonji. Photo/notjusok

The idea behind ‘People’ and the primary source of this song’s inspiration are life’s facts. Ideally, she addresses a social issue where many people present a false front to the rest of society while they are truly suffering.

in this breakout hit, Libianca portrays an image of a tormented soul that only engages in unending drinking. Even though she appears to the public with bloodshot eyes, nobody calls to check on her, which is unfortunate because she didn’t smoke ‘banga’ (marijuana) characterized by red eyes.

“Ohhh I’ve been drinking more alcohol for the past 5 days Did you check on me? Now did you look for me? I walked in the room eyes are red and I don’t smoke banga did you check on me? Now did you notice me? Nobody will know the paranoia cuz I put a smile on my face,” the lead verse goes.

She is delighted that many listeners can identify to the song’s emotional outburst because it’s just more than a song.  And for her creative outspoken nature, Libianca Fonji made it various music charts across Europe.

In New Zealand, ‘People’ is certified Platinum after selling over 30,000 units while in Switzerland, it enjoys Gold status. It sold over 10,000 units. Her biggest success besides the US is the UK where ‘People’ sold over 200,000 units to bag silver status.

Talk of Spotify and Apple streams. She has over 50 million and counting, partly thanks to her recording and music distribution deal with Sony Music in the US. She  shares the same record label with Nigerian king of Afrobeats Davido.

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About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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