Bowie

Wayna Wondwossen, vocals

2005

R&B/soul

Minnie Riperton, Donny Hathaway, Billie Holiday

A native Ethiopian, Wayna worked as a writer in the White House Office of Presidential Letters and Messages before becoming a full-time musician. She just released her sophomore album, Higher Ground.

"I'd gotten used to the identity of being a writer," she said. "It was scary at the beginning, but once I got used to calling myself an artist, the rest was pretty simple."