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Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | INDIE

Brooklyn, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2016
Solo R&B Soul


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Sugar, Spice, Playing Music Real Nice"

DECEMBER 7, 2016

In a modest one-corridor event hall in the heart of Canarsie, two Brooklyn College students came into the spotlight and serenaded Brooklyn with soulful melodies. In a room packed with other artists and spectators, Spicy Honey made their name known, breaking into the community of local artists.

Erica Umhoefer and Akilah Etienne, two students from the Conservatory of Music, make up the musical duo known as Spicy Honey. Umhoefer, whose expected graduation is in 2018, plays keyboard and sings secondary vocals, while Etienne, who will graduate next spring, sings lead vocals.

The event, which took place on Nov. 4, was an artist’s showcase, where different talents from and around Brooklyn came to perform and promote themselves individually or with their group. The venue was intimate and brushing shoulders with a stranger was unavoidable. No one seemed to mind the cramped conditions as everyone came for one thing — to listen, to engage and be inspired.

While waiting for their turn, Umhoefer and Etienne, sat among friends who came to support. They took in the sights and sounds, waiting patiently til Spicy Honey was called on stage. If they were feeling any nervousness or stagefright, the two women did not show it.

At Etienne’s apartment, two weeks prior to the artist’s showcase, Umhoefer and Etienne came together to brainstorm a new project — their first album.

e duo performed at Bamboo Tavern in Canarsie, Brooklyn on Nov. 4. / Dawn Eligio

Spicy Honey was the women’s brainchild. Although students from the Conservatory of Music, it was their friendship, shared experiences and similar musical interests that birthed their duo. They receive no academic credit from any extracurricular musical gigs outside of school.

Their Spicy Honey venture was not forced by academic related requirements. “They [The Conservatory] don’t really recognize if you have a personal [musical] thing going on,” said Umhoefer.

Balancing both student responsibilities and the responsibilities of their musical endeavors they admitted is challenging. “We are doing this as kind of full-time for the most part. And I was thinking of getting an internship maybe next semester and that’s gonna really cut into our time,” said Etienne.

Yet, to Spicy Honey, the challenges are welcome. Because they aren’t constrained by requirements, they are free to rear their brainchild the way they feel best. They talked of plans for improvement, future ideas they want to incorporate into performances and brainstormed suggestions for projects such as an upcoming teaser EP and a full-length album.

Their freedom to become their own artists has helped them as they progress towards their goal of being professional performers. But it is not to say that their formal training both at school and through lessons is not beneficial for their journey. Umhoefer and Etienne have had an extensive background in music and also offer lessons to teach those interested in vocals or piano.

Akilah Etienne and Erica Umhoefer make up the musical duo Spicy Honey. / Dawn Eligio

“We both have the classical upbringing. We take lessons. We study music and the theory,” said Etienne.

Their training is the key component for evolving and what sets them apart from being just a musical duo simply having jam sessions to being knowledgeable, professional artists of their craft.

“I want to make compositions. We should have stuff that really has a form and not just chords,” said Umhoefer as she dabbled with different chord progressions and arrangements on the keyboard. “We have so much knowledge and we’re not using it. We can do other stuff obviously, but if we want to do something that’s more interesting and more challenging, let’s do it. Let’s do stuff that’s our own.”

As much energy and time as it takes to practice, compose music and conceptualize albums, the two women aren’t fazed by the workload.

“This is what we’re gonna be doing. This is our lives,” said Umhoefer.

Two weeks later, Spicy Honey’s talents were put to the test at the showcase in a new venue and around a different audience, as it was their first off-campus gig.

They opened their set with Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” and followed with “Ready or Not” by The Fugees, which was a different sound from the four artists that preceded Spicy Honey. Their decision to do ballads set them apart from the hip-hop and rap artists that presented. A more soulful, emotional sound made them stand out.

After their performance, the two walked off the set all smiles, elated that they had conquered and accomplished the first of many performances that they hope to have. Their genuine passion for music and also their strong bond as friends adds a foundation to their tenacity to become known local musicians.

On Dec 17, Spicy Honey will be performing at a rally called “Not Straight Against Hate” in Washington Square Park. About 6,000 people have RSVP’d on the rally’s Facebook event page and this will be their largest performance yet.

“I see us building a name for ourselves locally over the next few years and really establish a following,” said Etienne. “We both want to have a career and scale ourselves as large as we possibly can.” - Dawn Eligio

"Bringing the Heat and Sweet to Brooklyn College"

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016
The sun served as a spotlight as its rays peeked between the green leaves of the low-hanging trees showcasing two musicians from the Conservatory of Music. Akilah Etienne and Erica Umhoefer took the stage at the Lily Pond last Tuesday in front of at least 30 Brooklyn College students and bystanders.

Akilah Etienne and Erica Umhoefer make up the duo known as Spicy Honey. The ladies describe themselves as half sweet and half spicy, blending their talents together to create the perfect flavor combination. Applause and cheers from the audience was proof that when two worlds of flavor extremes combine, they work to create a masterpiece.

“We’ve been Spicy Honey for like a week?” half-joked Umhoefer. “But we’re both into the same kind of music, like the same artists musically, so this happened.” Aside from being classmates and partnered artists, they are also really good friends, which was evident as they balanced professionalism and fun in their performance.

They performed a total of eight songs, ranging from oldies classics such as “Blue Moon” to more contemporary songs, such as a soulful rendition of R.Kelly’s “Ignition Remix.” Umhoefer played the keyboard and provided harmonizing vocals as Etienne sang lead vocals.

Etienne’s vocals are strong and also sultry yet show her wide vocal range, gathering vibes from influences such as Lauryn Hill while Umhoefer’s skill on the keyboard showed her obvious knowledge of chord progression, particularly in blues style as she played specific progressions. Their execution of the music was passionate — they love what they do, they enjoy doing it together and it showed as bright as both ladies’ personalities are.

In addition to being what Etienne calls, “a super swell team” that performs together, both ladies also teach music. Umhoefer hosts private piano lessons, while her counterpart offers voice lessons.

For more information about future Spicy Honey performances, visit the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. - Dawn Eligio

"Social Norm Broken by Innovative New Exhibit"

FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Students started discussions on disability and binary thinking at a sensory art opening put on by a dual-degree sophomore student at the Women’s Center on Feb. 16.

The pieces hung up on the wall were exclusively made from recyclable material. The most innovative pieces included bubble wrap and cardboard. Visitors were encouraged to touch the art, which creator Melissa Rose Corning said she did not originally intend to show.

“It didn’t start off as a form of activism,” she said. Ideally, Corning also said she is hoping to inspire people to continue the conversation about disability and work toward making a change toward a more inclusive society. For her, the best way to start making that change is to stand up for all human rights.

After viewing the exhibit, student Kardin Ulysse said the idea is “one I haven’t experienced in person that often.”

Making the exhibition accessible was also a quality praised by fellow student Faigy Gelbstein, who said the ability to take in the display in forms “other than sight is amazing and super inclusive.”

A popular standout at the art show, which BC student Kardin Ulysse says speaks to the
multitude “isolation and insecurity” the disabled may be feeling. / Jane Silverstein

Including intersectional inequality on a disabled front, Corning also said she was intending to use what she’s learned for future projects with special needs children.

“There’s no fluidity in binary thinking. It puts us in a box,” she said. Corning also said “there’s so much potential to teach” when it comes to disabled children, in a way that fosters more gender-equity and tolerance for the future.

When it came to defining disability, the artist also said she felt “privileged in the sense that I don’t require unique needs in the way that I move through the world.”

It was making art accessible that urged Corning to use recyclable material, wanting to show that art can be whatever anyone can find at home.

Currently pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education and Women’s & Gender Studies, Corning originally started the pieces for a class project. In her written statement, the artist said she sees education as a means of advancing society.

In addition to the exhibit, the afternoon included an original monologue called “Unboxing” read aloud by senior student Akilah Etienne. Inspired by societal labels, Etienne felt the bulk of her negative experiences with binary thought have been in reference to “the label of black and woman.”

Written about a week ago, Akilah said she was “frustrated with the world and the labels we as a society have placed on each other. They’ve become so ingrained that it’s easy to be trapped and it gets frustrating when you really remember that those binaries have no actual merit on who you are, only your experiences can do that.”

One of the exhibit’s pieces, made of bubble wrap and cardboard can be used to foster the
minds of disabled children. / Jane Silverstein

The connection between the poem and the exhibit, at least for Etienne and the members of the LGBTQ office, mainly had to do with breaking molds. Etienne said she “did that by acknowledging what molds I’ve been given and how they affect how others. She [Corning] did that by acknowledging the molds she saw that made art exclusive.”

For those who want to break out of their mold without art, Etienne recommends an individual to learn to question the labels they may hold and what those mean on a personal level.

She said that staying curious about the origin of a label and what reinforces the attachment to that label is the key to understanding. She also said she encourages anyone with something to say, to speak even if they are not an artist.

The significance for Etienne was the idea to focus on “showing how fragile social constructs are,” despite “how much weight we give them.”

One other speaker included Carol Zicklin Endowed Chair Brenda Foley, who is looking to work on a symposium involving disabled artists in late April, and will feature sound bites on campus about the disabled in the upcoming fall semester.

In the meantime, the semi-pointillistic art exhibit will most likely be hanging in the walls of the center for the rest of the semester and the employees at the Women’s Center encourage all students to walk in at any time during business hours to view the exhibit. - Danielle Kogan

"Pomp & Taking a Stance"

Published: May 30th, 2017

By Tuesday afternoon, the photos had been taken, the confetti had been thrown and the students of Brooklyn College’s Class of 2017 could finally call themselves alumni.

Clad in Brooklyn College’s maroon cap and gown, over 4,000 graduating students were joined by their family members and faculty, filling Barclays Center to almost full capacity. With Senator Bernie Sanders as keynote speaker, the commencement ceremony was imbued with a political spirit that strongly embodied the essence of the graduating class.

“You will push forward, and you will make our democracy better, because now is the time to defend democracy and to defend our values as a country,” said Letitia James, the New York City public advocate who spoke right before Sanders. Her fiery speech—which included quotes by Drake and the Notorious B.I.G.—touched upon controversial topics such as abortion rights, racism and immigration.

By far, the most anticipated part of the event was Sanders’ speech. He began by speaking about his Brooklyn roots and his year at Brooklyn College, which “had a major impact on [his] life.”

Sanders, who was awarded an honorary degree during the ceremony, gave a politically charged speech that was reminiscent of many of his campaign rallies. With his classic, impassioned manner and without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, he enjoined students to fight the “oligarchic community” that currently prevails. “We must never allow demagogues to divide us up by race, by religion, by national origin, by gender or sexual orientation,” he said.

“Unbelievably, at exactly the same time as they are throwing people off of healthcare, making it harder for kids to go to college, they have the chutzpah,” he said, pausing as students chuckled at his characteristic word choice, “to provide 300 billion dollars in tax breaks to the top one percent.”

The audience responded with resounding “boos,” and Sanders nodded sympathetically.

Only towards the end of his speech did his words sound like a commencement speech rather than a campaign speech: “Today, as you graduate from Brooklyn College, my message to you is very simple: Think big, not small, and help us create the nation we all know we can become.”

“I felt like it was tailored to the class of 2017. We’re in a very political world right now, and these are the things that needed to be said,” said Akilah Etienne, who graduated with a Music B.A. and sang the national anthem at the beginning of the ceremony.

Regarding her performance, Etienne said, “This is what I want to do with my life. To have this opportunity in front of all of my peers, it was a very emotional experience.”

But not all students felt that the event’s highly liberal bent was warranted. “It was made into a completely political affair, with only one side represented and the other was condemned, essentially. The only mention of right-leaning people in the crowd was to tell us to check our privilege,” said Kayla Elberg, who graduated with a Masters in industrial organizational psychology. “We’re there to celebrate our graduation, not to have a political agenda pushed on us.”

The other speakers included valedictorian Kevin LaMonte Jones and salutatorian Michael Franco. “There has been no greater honor for me in my life than the one bestowed upon me today,” Franco said after the ceremony had ended. “I come from a very close-knit community. Coming to Brooklyn College, I was able to meet such incredible people with so many cool backgrounds. To be able to act as a voice for such a diverse and intellectual student body is tremendously humbling on many levels.”

After graduation, Franco, a Psychology B.A., will be attending the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. He also plans to pursue rabbinical ordination. “Hopefully, I can do what is right and proper in the eyes of God,” he said.

“I cried,” said Tyson Robert, who graduated with a major in Business Management and Finance. “As an immigrant from Haiti, I never thought I would make it. But at Brooklyn College, I got to experience being in another nation and met so many diverse people. I loved BC.”

Largely because of Sanders’ popularity, the event was booked to the point where students were denied requests for extra tickets.

“It’s the largest graduation we’ve ever had in this building,” said Gerald Patterson, the assistant manager of facility services at the Barclays Center. “And we’ve done dozens of graduation from the time the building was built.”

“Other people may be here because of Bernie Sanders, but I’m excited because my wife is also graduating,” he said with a proud grin.

President Michelle Anderson received the President’s Investiture during the ceremony, an honor that formally conferred upon her the responsibility of the president’s office. Other honorees included Fredy A. Peccerelli (’96), who received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and members of the class of 1967, who had reunited 50 years after their graduation.

“I’ve never felt this much pride in my school; I’m proud to say I’m from Brooklyn,” said Ashley Dominic, who graduated from Brooklyn College last year. “This was by far the best graduation that I’ve been to.”

“They always talk about immigration and diversity at Brooklyn College,” Dominic continued. “But this year more than ever, people started to realize their power and privilege—or lack thereof. This year, everything became a little bit more relevant.”

“Overall, I can conclude that my graduation was shit,” she laughed.

Along with politics, the speakers touched upon that spirit to which only Brooklynites can attest. As Borough President Eric Adams said during the event, “There are two types of Americans: those who live in Brooklyn and those who wish they could.”

And in typical Brooklyn fashion, the students made their way out with family members, not in a limo or cab, but by swiping their metro cards, filling the Atlantic Terminal subway stop with a wave of maroon. - Radhika Viswanathan

"See your pals from 'Madagascar' Live at QPAC"

Ask any kid — and many an adult, too — who Alex, Gloria, Melman and Marty are, and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you they’re all characters from the 2005 computer-animated comedy film “Madagascar.”

What they might not know is that there is a live stage show featuring the same characters and many of the songs from the film — and it’s coming to the borough this week for one performance only.

Plaza Theatrical Productions’ rendition of the piece will be the attraction at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. While Plaza has been presenting stage versions of popular children’s stories for years, this marks the first time this particular show has been added to the repertoire.

The film was a box-office hit and won several prizes, including Favorite Animated Movie at the Kids’ Choice Awards, and, proving its wide appeal, it was named Best Cartoon at the MTV Movie Awards — in Russia!

For those not yet in the know, the story centers on four animals who embark on a journey away from their zoo and find themselves stranded on — yes — Madagascar, the real-life island nation located in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of southeastern Africa.

The four best friends, who have been spoiled by their upbringing and remain unaware of the realities of life in the wild, have distinct personalities: Alex (to be played by Giovanni Marine) cherishes his role as king of the zoo but also loves his fellow escapees; Marty (Andrew McCluskey) is the zebra who becomes aware that old age is creeping up on him; Melman (Charlie McGrath) is a neurotic giraffe who represents the voice of reason — especially when it’s convenient for him — and Gloria (Akilah Etienne) is a hippo known for her surprising grace.

While the movie runs an hour and a half, the stage version is a tight 60 minutes. Among the songs left intact are “Best Friends” and “I Like to Move It.”

The show’s direction and choreography are provided by Kim Dufrenoy. The musical director is Emma Harrington.

According to a Plaza representative, the show is ideal for youngsters 3 to 10 years of age. - Mark Lord


Quiet in my Mind, Single 2017
Opus 1, EP 2017
Black, Single 2017



Akilah is a performer and music educator from Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance. Akilah has performed for many distinguished individuals including Senator Bernie Sanders, civil rights activist Claudette Colvin, and the honorable Dr. Cornel West under the direction of Grammy Award winning Arturo O'Farrill.

She has been a featured soloist at distinguished venues such as the Barclay's Center and Carnegie Hall. She was a soloist for the North American debut of Heavensward from the Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy tour in January 2018 at Carnegie Hall, 

Akilah is the Co-Founder & Chief Financial Officer of Savgzworldwide, an independent label & fashion company where she is a signed artist.
 You can find Akilah hosting her radio show on Stationhead where she is an ambassador and top artist. 

Band Members