I realised that all the interviews on the blog so far have featured men and some female representation is overdue! What better way to start than with beautiful afro-soul songstress, Rafiya. Born in the US to Congolese parents, Rafiya's music is inspired by her experiences across the globe. She wants to make you smile, dance and think.
What's your passion?
Making a difference through music and education.
What inspired you to pursue a musical career?
I've wanted to become a singer for as along as I can remember. Seeing musical talent and artists giving concerts always stirred something deep inside of me. Mariah Carey never failed to leave me in awe and I wanted to develop such vocal abilities and to perform in front of huge audiences. I did that … in front of imaginary crowds … but not for long.
Growing up in a family of music lovers, my parents encouraged me and nurtured my talent by providing and sometimes by creating opportunities for me to sing and to blossom in that field. My father actually wrote the first song I recorded at age 7. Today music is so much more than performing to me. It's the channel that I use to uplift spirits and I want to continue doing that for as long as I can.
What has been your greatest challenge in being a musician? How have you dealt with/overcome it?
The greatest challenge I faced as a musician was combining being a musician and being a full time high school teacher. The latter being very demanding (lesson planning, grading papers etc.), I often experienced some frustration not being able to fully embrace my singing career. I took a leap of faith and decided to follow my first passion.
What has your greatest achievement been?
I would say having been able to release my debut album, Amazing, independently.
Where will you be in 10 years?
In 10 years I will be in Africa, married with children, making music and running a literacy school.
How does Africa inspire you?
Africa is part of me. It is translated in my music in the language that I sing in in some songs (Lingala from the Congo) and in the African vibes that we find in the instrumentation.
Anything else you'd like to share?
My album, Amazing, was recorded in 3 different continents (Africa, Europe and North America) and is a real treat 😉
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
I do have a couple of shows coming up. I will be the featured artist at Lickety Split in Philadelphia on the 26th of this month.In November, I will be performing at the the Built for Haiti Benefit Concert in NY. Also look out for the video of a collabo with the rap group JMNI and one with Marllen, a Mozambican star.
Get a taste of Rafiya's music here and enjoy some positive mid-week vibes! This week, I'm especially digging her rendition of "Mario", originally performed by Franco and TPOK Jazz.
Images by Magma Photography. Buy Rafiya's album on Amazon or on iTunes.