Star Amerasu, known by her stage name Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, is an American singer and songwriter. She began her musical career with the EPs Eclipsing and Rebecca, which became popular in the Bay Area indie music scene. She gained wider recognition when she released her first full album, Star, which was celebrated by critics and audiences alike. Based in Oakland, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su continues to make music and perform internationally.
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su was born in 1992. During her childhood, she and her family moved frequently and lived in Texas, Oregon, Florida, Michigan, and Washington. She describes her mother as a “spiritual practitioner” and an “Afrofuturist hippie” who inspired her early fascination with magic and mythology—themes that she now explores in her music.
Supported and encouraged by her mother, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su loved to sing, dance, and create art as a child. She joined a choir in middle school, and she studied guitar and theater in high school. She completed her last two years of high school at a fine arts academy, where she took voice lessons and developed a strong interest in musical theater. After graduating, she chose to attend Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She dropped out after a semester, though, and moved to Austin, where she took classes at a community college and began the process of transitioning.
Feeling “free to be whoever [she] wanted,” she legally changed her name to Star Amerasu, inspired by the Japanese goddess of the sun Amaterasu. Nonetheless, she struggled to find medical practitioners who would administer the feminizing hormone therapy that she sought. She also faced increasing transphobia in her personal life, so she ultimately decided to leave Texas and settled in Oakland, where she has lived since.
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su released her first EP, Eclipsing, in 2016. The following year, she produced her next EP, Rebecca, which borrows its title from “Becky with the good hair,” the famous phrase from Beyoncé’s “Sorry.” She wrote the lead single “Klonopin” after Bryn Kelly—a trans writer and friend whom she considered a big sister—committed suicide. The song explores her uneasy relationship with prescription drugs and pharmaceutical companies. Another prominent theme in the album is white feminism, which she criticizes most explicitly on the track “Meg Ryan.” Imagining herself as the actress, the artist calls attention to the privileges that accompany “passing” as a white woman.
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s much-anticipated debut studio album came out in 2018. When a mutual friend introduced her to musician Vice Cooler, they decided to work together for a week and collaborate on a song. Over the course of the week, they managed to produce five songs instead of just one. Ah-Mer-Ah-Su was already drafting ideas for more songs, so she proposed creating a full album to Cooler. The result was Star, which was released by DERO Arcade. Among the album’s tracks are “Heartbreaker,” which recounts failed romances with cis men, and “7-15-13,” which, according to the artist, is “about the idea of coming to this earth with a purpose.”
As a performer, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su has toured Europe, Australia, and North America. In the earlier stages of her career, she played at popular raves and parties in the Bay Area, such as Swagger Like Us and Ships in the Night. In addition, she was featured at the trans march during San Francisco Pride. After she released Rebecca, she was invited to perform at the 2017 South by Southwest festival in Austin. She also headlined two festivals, both held in 2017, that celebrated music by trans and gender-nonconforming artists: Dice in Berlin and Transgenre in Melbourne.
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su characterizes her own taste in music as “eclectic,” and she draws from many different artists and genres in her work. Her vocal style is inspired by and has been compared to ANOHNI and Nina Simone. The albums that have influenced her include SZA’s Ctrl, Solange’s A Seat at the Table, and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She portrays her album Star as an effort to pay homage to these musicians while speaking from her particular experience as a Black trans woman. She also gains inspiration from other artistic mediums, namely literature, and cites Octavia Butler as another one of her influences.
Throughout her musical career, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su has earned critical acclaim. After releasing Rebecca, she drew attention from indie music bloggers and journalists in the Bay Area. In a review of the EP, Nastia Voynovskaya of KQED lauded Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s unique style: “Her lyrics can be brutal in their honesty, but Amerasu also spins them into sparkly, lo-fi pop gems.” Her next album Star garnered even more praise for the artist. Writing for Ravelin Magazine, Jillian Billard called her voice “unwavering and powerful” and described Star as “a mesmerizing, lyrically captivating work that exhibits the artist’s immense strength and grace.”
- “In Conversation with Electronic Pop Artist Ah Mer Ah Su,” September 7, 2018. https://www.ravelinmagazine.com/posts/ah-mer-ah-sus-star-chronicles-path-toward-self-compassion/.
- Escalera, Arkee. “Ah-Mer-Ah-Su Is Ready to Share Her Story with the World: ‘My Album Isn’t Just for Transgender Black People,’” August 8, 2018. https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8468535/ah-mer-ah-su-interview-star-album.
- Voynovskaya, Nastia. “Star Amerasu Confronts Trauma with Beauty -- Specifically, Electro-Pop,” February 22, 2017. https://www.kqed.org/arts/12803597/star-amerasu-talks-transphobia-addiction-and-assault-with-an-upbeat-electro-pop-twist.
- Syfret, Wendy. “Prescription Drugs, Transphobia, Grief — Ah Mer Ah Su Takes It All on with Pop Music,” April 21, 2017. https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/d3pp9a/prescription-drugs-transphobia-grief-ah-mer-ah-su-takes-it-all-on-with-pop-music.
- Amable, Jody. “Making New Myths with Ah Mer Ah Su,” September 20, 2018. http://thebaybridged.com/2018/09/20/making-new-myths-with-ah-mer-ah-su/.
- Reign, Eva. “This Black Trans Artist Is a Star — and We’re Premiering Her Debut Album,” July 26, 2018. https://www.them.us/story/ah-mer-ah-su-star.
- Thomas, Chris. “Ah Mer Ah Su Is Serving TPOC Realness from Berlin to Oakland,” November 13, 2018. https://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2018/11/07/ah-mer-ah-su-serving-tpoc-realness-berlin-oakland.
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