‘Blessed Up’: UT Austin alumna Wande Isola signs with record label

Austin
Wande Isola

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wande Isola is quoted in her 2018 University of Texas at Austin graduation booklet as wanting to pursue a career in the hip hop industry.

“At the time when I wrote that, I was like this feels really weird ’cause it feels really off from what everybody else is writing, but I was like let me just speak it into existence,” she said.

Before the one year mark of her walking across the stage, Isola is already living out that dream. 

She was signed with the label, Reach Records, in April, accomplishing a milestone for the company as its first female artist. The Texas-made, now Atlanta-based, company has two focuses according to its website, hip hop and Jesus. The label claims artists including Christian-rapper Lecrae, 1K Phew, Andy Mineo, Gawvi, KB, Tedashii, Trip Lee and WHATUPRG. 

“Our mission is to change the way people see the world,” said Marcus Hollinger, the company’s Vice President of Marketing. “Essentially, what that encompasses is our faith and we want to be able to do justice by our faith.” 

It was the perfect fit for Isola when she started as an intern at the company in the summer of 2017. “I would definitely say my faith plays a big role in my music. I feel like that’s the reason why I even got passionate about it,” she said.

Isola first discovered her talent while just playing around in biology class one day and started using it as a platform to encourage others. “I started using it to speak life into people and to encourage people to pursue their purpose and follow their dreams and educate them about faith and who God is and my faith,” she said. 

She used her internship as an opportunity to learn as much as she could and right before graduation she was hired to work in A&R administration. Ironically, she would handle song contracts, helping people find their best sound and would help the company find talent. Though it wasn’t what she envisioned herself doing, she didn’t give up on her dream. 

Her boss knew about her interest in music, and one day she took a bold step. She asked her boss to look at a song she wrote and asked how she could make it better.

“I was really passionate about music so instead of just saying since I’m working at the label I’m just not going to do music anymore, I just stayed consistent.” She said her songs would even play in the office. “All the staff would dance to it and it was funny but it was cool because they really supported what I did,” Isola said. 

It was only a matter of time before they offered her a contract, and she already had her newly released song, “Blessed Up,” written.

“She’s dope, she’s young and she’s got it,” said Hollinger. ” She’s a woman, she’s a woman of color, she’s authentic and she’s got a powerful message so I think those elements add a special dynamic and they bring together something very special that I think a lot of people are going to be able to resonate with and that people are going to need to hear.”

Isola credits her success to what she learned from professors at UT Austin. It is how she first got her internship at Reach Records. 

“Our motto ‘What Starts Here Changes the World,’ is definitely really accurate,” she said. “I’m really grateful for UT because we had a lot of resources.” 

But her ultimate anchor is her faith. “Since there’s a reason behind what I do and it’s not just making music, it helps drive me to stay consistent even through any obstacles that I may face,” Isola said, adding that it inspires her to want to keep empowering other women. “Be leaders and be yourself and just navigate through your passions, don’t let your gender hold you back from accomplishing your dreams.”

Her music is available on multiple music platforms and the album she is working on is expected to be released later this year. 

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