Up Next: Kelsey Lu McJunkins, Hitting the Stages of Afropunk and Barclays Center

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Up Next: Kelsey Lu McJunkins, Hitting the Stages of Afropunk and Barclays Center

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Up Next

By JOANNA NIKAS

AGE 27

HOMETOWN Charlotte, N.C.

NOW LIVES Between apartments. She recently lived in a three-story brownstone in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but she put her stuff in storage to travel all summer.

CLAIM TO FAME Ms. McJunkins is a classically trained cellist and singer who has played with Dev Hynes (a.k.a. Blood Orange), Kelela and Nappy Roots. In June, she opened for Florence and the Machine’s “How Beautiful Tour” at Barclays Center. “It was reassuring to know I can be in a space like that and I can still feel connected,” she said.

BIG BREAK At 22, after she dropped out of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Ms. McJunkins was asked to sing with Nappy Roots for its show in Cullowhee, a small town in North Carolina. Nappy Roots then asked Ms. Lu to play cello on their album “Nappy Dot Org,” which was produced with Organized Noize, the Atlanta-based trio that worked on tracks for TLC, Outkast and En Vogue.

LATEST PROJECT Ms. McJunkins is to perform this weekend at the Afropunk music festival in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In July, she released her first EP, “Church,” recorded live in a single take at a church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She mixes resonating vocals and a melodic cello to create a sound that her friends call “Lu-thereal.” She also scored the soundtrack for Grace Wales Bonner’s first stand-alone runway show, inspired by Ethiopian music and the composer Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

NEXT THING She is finishing her first full-length album, and will participate in a residency at National Sawdust, a cultural hub in Brooklyn, where she will collaborate with other artists and create new music. “I really want to do an old-school orchestral arranged thing,” she said.

FAMILY STYLE Cultivating her personal style, which includes a mash-up of colorful prints and long, roomy dresses, came at an early age when she would go thrift-shopping with her father. “He always had an eye for something different,” she said of her father, who has a collection of weird eyeglass frames and watches. “I feel like that is where my style comes from, digging around old stuff.”

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