There are few songwriters across any genre of music than can match Sampa the Great’s penchant for songwriting. Her words are thoughtful, emotive and powerful.
“The very first time I ever wrote a song was in primary school when my parents forgot to pick me up,” she said. “I’m sitting there in the parking lot like, ‘Okay, I’m the middle child and you guys forgot to pick me up? I’m gonna write my feelings in my diary.’
"And my first song was actually born there. I’m used to writing to reflect, as I said I was a middle child The older one was going through their things and had to take care of the younger one so I was a very reflective kid. So I’m very good at introspection and writing into a song.”
Her first expression of her interest in writing came through performance poetry. Standing on stage by herself allowed her to learn to express herself and develop the lush, imaginative songwriting ability. Today, her music envelopes aspects of the spoken-word and bluesy rap.
The Melbourne-based Zambian artist has elevated onto the global stage over the last few years following collaborations with the likes of REMI, Hiatus Kaiyote, Estelle, and a European tour which saw her supporting Joey Bada$$. “Joey’s really dope, he’s an amazing person. “It was nice to see how open he was to be like ‘yes, take centre stage and do what you need to do’ and just constantly giving advice.”
She also got to support Lauryn Hill, one of her idols, on one of her shows, an experience she describes as the highlight of her musical career.
Her work has also garnered attention from media platforms such as BBC6, Clash, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, triple j, and earned her the 2017 Australian Music Prize award.
After a host of singles and projects, she’s ready to release her debut album. “It’s finished, it’s done and actually there’s new music that is dropping on June 6. Expect something that will be a piece to the puzzle of the full picture which is the album.”
Sampa’s been in the country, having arrived on Sunday after her performance at MTN Bushfire in Swaziland. That was her first show on the continent. “I was just overwhelmed because it’s a different place and I don’t come here with expectations of people knowing my music or anything like that.”
Since she’s been in town she hasn’t really had a chance to do some sightseeing. “It’s been a bit quick, but it’s been good,” she says. “We’re staying in Maboneng right now. I’m just looking forward to the show on Friday and seeing more people out here, share my music and see how it goes.”
Sampa will also be looking to release some exciting new music videos. “You may be seeing me on your screens,” she hinted.IOL