Spicy Honey
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Spicy Honey

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

Brooklyn, New York, United States
Established on Jan, 2016
Duo Jazz Soul


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Spicy Honey @ Brooklyn College

New York, United States

New York, United States

Spicy Honey @ Brooklyn College

New York, United States

New York, United States

Spicy Honey @ Brooklyn College

New York, United States

New York, United States


The best kept secret in music


"Bringing the Heat and the Sweet to Brooklyn College"

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. - Dawn Eligio

"Sugar, Spice, Playing Music Real Nice"

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


Still working on that hot first release.



Spicy Honey is an up-and-coming music duo composed of NYC-based artists Akilah Etienne and Erica Umhoefer. The female dream team met at Brooklyn College and knew almost immediately that their shared love of similar genres and performing could not go to waste. They evidently take their inspiration from an array of artists ranging from Billie Holiday to Erykah Badu, allowing them to create a unique sound that is aimed to uplift the souls and stimulate the minds of their listeners.

Band Members