Ella Jukwey interviewed UK based Afro-beat budding sensation SONA.
“Don’t stop; don’t let anybody tell you can’t do what you want to do! And even if they tell you to, don’t give up or stop trying!” These are the triumphant words of Afrobeats star Sona. The singer, who hails from Croydon, London made his breakthrough impact on the UK Afrobeats scene in 2014 with infectious anthems such as No Wahala and Ijo Sona. In 2014, Sona had a setback when he was caught up in a reported incident that led to time away due to his incarceration. Sona was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and is looking to move ahead from this adversity. He made his comeback from prison in late 2016 and since then he’s been on a mission to prove why he is one of the most exciting prospects that UK Afrobeats has to offer.
May 2017, it’s a sunny day in Canary Wharf, London and the M-Lifestyle team are patiently waiting for Sona. When he finally makes his grand entrance, the singer is obviously tired. He informs us that he has just got back from a show in Manchester, and will be heading to a video shoot after this interview. It’s clear that he’s been working hard, but also enjoys his craft. Once it’s time for Sona to do a video recording, he instantly turns on the charm and delivers his catchphrase “It’s your boy Sona!” Although he’s been running on little sleep, he knows when to be a showman.
One of Sona’s biggest tracks since he’s been back has been his feature on Sneakbo’s song Hurt Nobody. Sona’s catchy chorus and verse adds Yoruba-laden, Afrobeats flavour to a song that addresses struggles and success. When asked about how the collaboration with Sneakbo came about, Sona explains the chance encounter; “Basically I was in the studio and Sneakbo phoned me and asked me where I was. He later came to the studio, I heard the beat produced by ATG, and started singing ‘I ain’t ever hurt nobody’ and it just took off from there.” The video for this song has now amassed over a million views and is regularly heard in clubs in the UK.
It’s well established that Sona makes songs that “get the party started”. A song that began Sona’s stardom was ‘Ijo Sona’, which also became a hit in his native Nigeria. The content of the song is mainly about dancing and celebration. So it was interesting for Sona to switch it up one of his latest songs Story. He describes ‘Story’ as his best song that’s out so far, and it’s hard to disagree with him. When asked about ‘Story’, Sona says that “I just wanted to give them a little bit more of me. It’s a different side to me and it’s MY story.” ‘Story’ is a spiritual song, and Sona sings “Oluwagbemisoke”, which translates as “The Lord has exalted me”. Due to Sona having recently come out of prison, the song’s lyrics about God and the strength he has received from his Christian faith are even more powerful. It also helps to show a different more soulful side to the energetic performer that we are so used to.
When it comes down to his style of music, Sona also sees himself as an Afrobeats artist instead of a UK Afrobeats artist. “I see myself as just an Afrobeats artist. This is because of how much of my culture I put into the music. I always try to have my culture play a part in my songs, which is why I always have Yoruba lyrics.” Sona also cites Nigerian superstars such as Davido and Wizkid as people he looks up to, as he believes they are taking Afrobeats to a global audience.
Sona’s latest release is called Ginger. It’s a song that will make you move your body, and in the video Sona and his friends show the build-up of excitement in their mood. Sona simply describes the track ‘Ginger’ as “Energy!” Then further explains that it’s a song that you can dance to and celebrates the side of Sona that is most loved.
Sona’s career is definitely on an upward curve; he recently performed at the One Africa Music Fest London. The festival took place at the legendary Wembley SSE Arena and is the biggest African festival to hit the UK. Apart from performing at big shows, Sona says that he’s recorded up to 48 singles since he’s been back. He also reveals that he is finally dropping an EP with six songs at the end of May 2017.
Sona’s final words are for his fans. “I love them and they should keep supporting. They keep me motivated.” Being around Sona throughout this interview, it is easy to see that he is a fighter and is also humble. He was hit with a setback, but did not let that define him or stall his music career. What we can learn from this young man and his trials and tribulations is that your dreams do not stop unless you give up on them.
by Ella Jukwey
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