Premiere: betina quest Invites Listeners “To Get Lost and Found” With Her on Vulnerable New Single, ‘in and out’

‘in and out’ is the follow-up single to German-Burundian artist, betina quest’s, ‘ikangure,’ released last month. The singer spoke to GAA about the significance dropping out of university had on her decision-making process to becoming a musician and how having a sense of community made everything even more possible.

african artists | betina quest | in and out
Photo credit: Tommy Wá

Like many of us, betina quest has been on a long journey; one that demanded a lot of patience, “a lot of faith and a lot of support,” she says. Part of one of the first generations of Africans born in Europe, her upbringing was defined by making sure that she would be able to live a good life and continue rising from where her parents left her off. The only possible way she knew how was the way her family thought best: education.

But just after two months, betina dropped out of university and in secret, applied to a music college shortly thereafter. “I was always worried I [was] too rational to be an artist. I barely passed the college audition which made me honor the chance of being a music student even more. I was on time for class, […] did my homework, read all the scripts and listened carefully to every lecture no matter how boring or irrelevant,” she says.

african artists | betina quest | in and out

By contrast, she also notes that she was the only one of those around her who had never finished writing an entire song, nor had her own band, or even led one when she was considering pursuing music in school. “I had no idea what kind of music I actually wanted to make. I just knew music was what I really wanted to do,” she continues. And so she decided to take a chance, daring to believe that passion and success could co-exist, and stuck with music.

What kept her going was trusting her gut and listening to her inner voice. While traveling around and exploring the world for over a decade—living in a few different countries in between and taking on various projects and jobs in the meantime—bq decided to settle in Accra, Ghana to focus on music.

“[My travels] nurtured my understanding of who I am. And therefore my art. The plan, all along, was to settle in Burundi or somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. I just needed the few years to work up the courage to do it.” 

Whereas her first, “in your face” single, ‘ikangure’ focuses on the singer’s link to Burundi and her people, as well as her self-discovery, identity and womanhood, ‘in and out’ showcases other facets and emotions to her story, speaking more about the nostalgia she experienced throughout those ten years and the dilemma of “being everywhere but, seemingly, not truly belonging anywhere.” It is with this vulnerability she hopes to share and help heal others musically, encouraging listeners supporting her quest to be open while on their own.

african artists | betina quest | in and out
Photo credit: YAASAA

Both ‘ikangure’ and ‘in and out’ are part of quest’s larger work, entitled room in a room out for release on 11/11/20. Working on the body of work as a whole took over two and half years, due to a serious back injury and collaborations bq says didn’t fulfill her, that convinced the singer to want to quit music altogether. “Fast forward to a year later, I had learned my lesson, eased back into it more tenderly, produced, recorded and wrote mostly solo and took almost another whole year to finish.” 

african artists | betina quest | in and out
Photo credit: Daniel Wetzel

Having a community of women was also imperative post-injury and amidst her latest journey of self-discovery, the moment when she began consciously seeking other African female creatives to collaborate with. For a long time, bq says she thought being a woman was just another “minority badge” she carried, but ultimately grew to understand the greater narrative of being in charge of her own story: “as an independent artist, a black woman, an African, as someone’s child, as someone’s successor, even as a country. I am in charge,” she says. 

african artists | betina quest | in and out
Photo credit: YAASAA

Consciously deciding to surround herself with an uplifting community, thus, made all the difference. “For too long, I was immersed in communities that didn’t favor me and I felt it seriously paralyzed my potential,” she says.

As the artist gears up for room in a room’s release she notes that her—and all women’s—unexplainable superpower, that which binds, empowers and allows us “to be more resilient and greater than ever imaginable,” will be tapped into more than ever, greatly, equally and collectively on ‘in and out.’

“I sincerely believe all [women] possess greatness. We have everything we need. But we don’t always know how to tap into that. And well, if we did, we could be those better human beings we aspire to be.”

betina quest’s new single ‘in and out’ is available now. For more on her journey, follow her here, here, and here