Rising R&B Stars Meagan McNeal, Carla Prather, and Janeff the Poet Want to Deliver a Clear Message to Their Fans on Their New Collaboration, the Inspirational R&B Anthem, “I Can Only Be Me.”

“I want people who listen to this song to feel that they are ok. Regardless of what others may say or expect of them, they’re ok,” says Janeff The Poet, who wrote the lyrics to “I Can Only Be Me.”

“If you really wanna be free, you gotta be honest, realistic, and holistic and anything else is just sort of playing the game,” Janeff says.

The heartfelt single is a mix of classic soul and R&B, with soaring verses carried by McNeal and Prather that reach deep into listeners and compel them to keep listening.

The collaboration grew out of conversations that Janeff was having with Meagan McNeal, a powerhouse singer-songwriter who was featured on the singing competition show The Voice and has performed backup vocals for Eminem and Common.

“She was just telling me a little bit about her life and how because she’s such an artistic person, and how she’s always felt like an outsider and she never really fit in,” Janeff says. “Growing up, she was very artistic and maybe didn’t do everything the way society thought a young Black girl growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago was meant to do.”

The burden of those expectations and prejudices had weighed on Janeff too during his life.

“I also have experienced times in my life where I was expected to do certain things, whether based on my education, where I lived or was born, or who my parents were or whatever the case may be,” he says. “I often felt like I didn’t always fit in.“

Janeff says the song had been in the works since before the COVID pandemic. While the lockdowns slowed production, they allowed him to deepen the song by collaborating with other artists.

“We laid Meagan’s vocals and then the pandemic happened,” Janeff says. “I was talking with other artists I worked with during that time and in those conversations, I realized this is a universal story.”

Janeff brought on Carla Prather, a killer vocalist who’s performed across America with alternative soul band Poi Dog Pondering, to record additional verses that add a second perspective to the track.

“Carla gives the song a yin and yang. Megan is the melodic tone, and Carla pumps in with a soulful hurricane type of approach, and so even in this song they are demonstrating their individuality,” Janeff says. “Even though they’re singing the song a little bit differently, they’re still being themselves and that’s ok.”

“I Can Only Be Me” is already finding a loyal audience on streaming services, and the artists hope to see it gain wider exposure on radio and the internet.

“I’d like to see people will use it as a rallying cry, that it is ok to be yourself. That would be my hope,” Janeff says.



Stream “I Can Only Be Me” on all platforms!

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