If there’s one thing Ultra Naté has learned over the course of her three-decade music career, it’s that unity ― both in the literal and figurative sense ― can always be found on the dance floor.
An underlying theme in most of the singer’s euphoric club anthems ― from 1998’s “Free” to 2007’s “Give It All You Got” and beyond ― has been that of self-empowerment. Her latest single, “Fierce,” is no exception. The track is a collaboration with fellow pop artist Mila Jam and “Pose” star Angelica Ross. Together, the women urge listeners to “be legendary, be necessary [and] extraordinary” by living their respective truths. An EP featuring three versions of the song was released to coincide with Black History Month in February.
Naté, who has spent much of the past year at home in Baltimore, Maryland, told HuffPost that “Fierce” was originally conceived as a solo track. Over time, she and producer Anthony Preston decided they wanted the song to have a more profound message. So they called in Jam and Ross ― both of whom are transgender ― to help reimagine “Fierce” as a declaration of “unity, support and inclusion” between Black cisgender and trans women.
“The LGBTQ community has been a part of my music landscape since I began making records 30 years ago,” Naté said. “They’ve always been strong supporters of my music. Nothing happens by coincidence, and [the song] just kind of evolved into this wonderful thing at this important moment in time politically. That’s just my energy, my spirit.”
Listen to “Fierce” below.
Celebratory vibes aside, the women of “Fierce” also hope to raise awareness of the challenges transgender and gender-nonconforming people face in 2021, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least eight transgender and gender-nonconforming people have died as a result of violence so far in 2021. Last year was the deadliest year on record for the trans and gender-nonconforming communities, with 44 known victims of violent deaths.
Similarly, research has shown that the LGBTQ community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with their access to social networks and gender-affirming health care diminished.
With that in mind, “Fierce” is being released in conjunction with Project Fierce, a fundraising campaign spearheaded by Preston and Ross and benefiting the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and the GLAAD Transgender Media Program.
“I think we’re at a place in time right now where there is such a high level of awareness of trans people,” said Jam in a previous interview. “The next step, for me, is to incorporate that we are your friends, we are your family, we are your partners and lovers, and we are in the fabric of society. This brings it more to the forefront and to something that is so universal, which is music.”
Written by Preston, Andre Lindal, Henrik Ofeldt and Kinda Ingrosso, “Fierce” marks that start of what Naté is hoping will be a gradual return to some semblance of a performance schedule. She’s currently at work on her 10th studio album, which will no doubt feature more of the declarative arias she’s made her signature.
As to what she’d most like fans to take away from “Fierce,” she said, “There are people who are supporting you in growing into the fullest expression of yourself. That magnificence makes you who you are.”