Friends and family are grieving the loss of Britney Boateng, a young Ghanaian-American woman and up-and-coming Columbus musician.
Boateng, 22, who went by “BeBe,” was killed in a shooting around 1 am Monday morning at a home in the 400 block of South Weyant Avenue. Columbus police have arrested 41-year-old Tyona Dunkle, of the East Side, and charged her with murder.
Ricky McElroy, a supervisor at the Buckeye Ranch who produced music for Boateng, said “she was just a sweet soul. Her talent was unbelievable, but just her care for people — her love for people — was amazing.”
He recalled Boateng’s memorable performance of “Hero,” by Mariah Carey, at the Glenwood Recreation Center in front of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in 2016.
“Oh Britney, I can’t even find the words. This heart of mine is busted wide open and I am left in pieces,” wrote Nancy de Leon, an English and Humanities teacher at Columbus City Schools’ Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, where Boateng was an alumna.
Boateng was a singer with a powerful voice who began performing in church at 8 years old, according to a 2014 interview.
She continued her musical studies at Fort Hayes, which hosts a special audio engineering program.
In the interview with “On the Spot with Marko Records,” then-teenager Boateng described her love of music and basketball.
“My goals are to finish college and to become a successful singer…If you can sing, it heals someone. Singing — it speaks to the mind,” she said.
Boateng’s repertoire included gospel and rhythm and blues, and she said her inspirations included Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Tamela Mann, and CeCe Winans. Her songs garnered thousands of listens and are available on YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon.
“This is one of the unfortunate situations of gun violence we are experiencing not only in Columbus, Ohio, but in the whole of America. It doesn’t hit you until it’s next-door,” said Cynthia Engmann, president of Ghana Council Ohio, a Ghanaian community organization. “I think something more needs to be done about gun violence, and that will help and make us safe within the community.”
“You had the voice of an angel here on this earth, and I know it will serve you well in that heavenly choir,” de Leon wrote on Facebook. “Sing loud enough so we can hear you and feel you right here with us.”
Boateng leaves behind a toddler daughter. Boateng’s mother declined to speak with The Dispatch on Tuesday as the family was still making preparations for the funeral.
Peter Gill covers immigration and new American communities for The Dispatch in partnership with Report for America. You can support work like his with a tax-deductible donation to Report for America here:bit.ly/3fNsGaZ.