We had the privilege of connecting with singer songwriter Ava Raiin in Austin, home to SXSW and NaturallyCurly.com offices! During her career Ava has gone natural, toured with Chrisette Michele, concurred SXSW and is currently touring with Solange - we can't wait to see what she accomplishes next!
If you want to know how she does it all, and what her curly routine and must have products are, keep reading!
NaturallyCurly: So you just got back from performing with Solange at SXSW, how was your South By experience?
Ava Raiin: Amazing! It was so much fun but a bit overwhelming; there's so much to do! There's definitely something for everyone. We played 4 shows , met some really cool people. Good times. My family also lives in Austin so having them at the shows and spending time with them was huge a bonus.
NC: How is your onstage persona different from your offstage?
Ava: Offstage I'm a bit more introverted so I love that I can let loose on stage.
NC: Does your hair contribute to your onstage persona?
Ava: It does! My Afro is growing at a crazy pace and I have a lot of fun swinging it around on stage. It's very liberating.
NC: Do you feel industry pressure to wear your hair relaxed?
Ava: No, Not at all.
NC: Have you always rocked your hair natural?
NC: If you were relaxed during your singing career, have you gotten different reactions after going natural?
Ava: Yes. I was actually relaxed for the first couple of years of my career and then went to a press / extensions which was similar to my relaxed style.
NC: How did you come to sing back-up for Solange and Chrisette Michele?
Ava: After college I moved to NYC from Austin to pursue music. About a year later a drummer friend of mine from Texas introduced me to a few members of Chrisette's band at the time, they mentioned she needed a backing vocalist and suggested that I attend one of the rehearsals in NYC. I decided to check it out and we clicked instantly. I toured with her for a few years. It was a really cool learning experience and the start of a great friendship.
Coincidently Solange was the opening act on the last Chrisette tour I was on so I had the chance to meet her then. She and I also record at the same recording studio in NYC, Brown Sugar Studios. The studio owner is a good friend of mine and recommended me to her for her "True" tour. I was out of the country when I received the call about auditions. Needless to say I was pretty bummed that I wasn't around to audition however I received another call a few weeks later, auditioned and got the gig. It has been a lot of fun.
NC: What is it like singing side by side with other naturalistas?
Ava: Pretty cool actually. We share a common bond because of our hair which is inspiring (personally and I believe to other curlies as well as those thinking about going natural).
NC: What's your current hair routine?
Ava: It totally depends on my schedule, but I try to stay close to the following:
Co-wash and detangle once or twice a week and follow with leave in conditioner. I then apply an oil or butter followed by hair cream (LOC method) and style in a wet twist out (about 12-15 twists). I let this dry overnight and in the morning I pull twists apart and style. This helps with moisture retention, curl definition and to combat shrinkage.
The next two to four nights I will either dry twist or leave hair as is, depending on how moisturized it is and considering the style / look I want to achieve the next day.
On the road I don't twist out as often, so my hair more of a true afro, the curls are a little less defined and not as loose, which I also really like.
If I want more curl definition and less shrinkage: before bed I add oil or cream to dry hair and twist (larger twists than co-wash day - about 8-10). In the morning I untwist and style.
A couple times a week I apply a mixture of castor oil, rosemary and tea tree to my scalp and massage.
For a little extra TLC (3 or 4 times a month) I will also sleep with regular or deep conditioner on my hair which I rinse out in the morning and style as I usually would on co-wash day.
I don't use any heat on my hair. I've committed to a challenge of no heat for one year. So far I don't miss heat one bit.
I also sleep on a satin pillow case at night. That's about it!
NC: Must-have products?
NC: What do you love the most about your afro?
Ava: How unpredictable it is. Everyday it seems to take on a new shape. I'm having a lot of fun with it.
NC: What advice can you extend to some of the natural newbies?
Ava: First, identify your hair type! Once you know what you are working with, the easier it will be. Take the time to find a hair regimen / products that work best for your hair type and lifestyle. It will take some time , trial and error but once you discover the right formula for your hair it's worth it.
NC: What are you working on now?
Ava: In addition to touring with Solange, I'm currently in the process of writing and recording new music that I plan to release later this year.
NC: How can our readers find you on the web?