Blues Diva, UHD Alumna Annika Chambers Opens Concert Series
By Mike Emery
It’s only fitting that blues diva Annika Chambers kicked off University of Houston-Downtown’s Thursday Night Concert Series at Discovery Green in early June. The first show was held on a special “Alumni Night,” and Chambers is a proud Gator Graduate.
Chambers will opened for fellow soul songstress Lavelle White. The opening slot was an honor for Chambers, who hopes to emulate the 90 year-old White’s longevity in the music business.
Like so many students, Chambers found her way to UHD by way of Houston Community College (HCC). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications in 2013.
Prior to attending HCC and UHD, she served in the U.S. Army, and used her talents to uplift fellow soldiers serving in Kosovo and Iraq. After a colonel heard her singing, he urged her to sing the National Anthem as an Army event. From there, she was enlisted to help coordinate musical events to support the troops.
As a performer, Chambers infuses a confident tone with sultry stylings to create upbeat party blues designed to appease audiences of all ages. Proof can be found on her first two albums “Making My Mark” (2014) and “Wild and Free.” Next up for Chambers is a European jaunt, followed by a gig at the Juneteenth Celebration at Miller Outdoor Theatre, and the release of her third LP, “Kiss My Sass.”
UHD News caught up with the talented alumna to talk tabout the show, her influences and how her UHD education helps her as a musician.
UHD News: Have you always been a fan of the blues?
Annika Chambers: Actually, I was into gospel music. My musical roots are in the church. I used to sing in Greater Saint Matthew Baptist Church near the Ship Channel.
UHD News: You perform at nightclubs and festivals across the country. What do you like the best about performing live?
Chambers: Performing live gives me a chance to connect with my fans. When I can sing for an audience … and we connect eye to eye … it’s very enjoyable.
UHD News: You perform some classics, but have a number of original songs as well. What inspires your songwriting?
Chambers: I write how I feel. Any of the original tunes on my records came from things that were on my mind at the time. They’re like reference points in my life.
UHD News: How has your degree from UHD helped your musical career?
Annika Chambers: I think I’ve always been a good communicator, but working on projects with groups taught me how to deal with people … how to lead the band … how to get everyone on the same page. In this business, communication is very important.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.