A self-described “free spirit”, Samia, a young Nigerian singer-songwriter now based in South Africa, has an ambition to defy convention and free herself from the confines that labels, genres & trends place on an artist. Samia’s debut single ‘Rise’, released through Sony Music / Youngane Productions, is the result of a partnership with producer Dirin Ovueraye and blends the ambient textures of trip-hop & electronica of the late 90s UK underground with the natural timbres of guitars, percussion, traditional bass and a strong vocal melody. The result is something unique and fresh. Described by Samia as a “personal liberation song”, ‘Rise’ has an international sound that doesn’t conform to African music stereotypes and is yet 100% made in Africa.
Listen to Samia’s debut single ‘Rise’ here
Born in Zaria, Kaduna state in northern Nigeria and raised in Port Harcourt, River state which is southern Nigeria, Timi Sam Inokoba – the artist known as Samia – has a story that is as interesting as her music.
One of five children raised in a strict Christian home, her first musical experiences began like so many great African singers in the church choir. Growing up, Samia’s siblings’ diverse influences rubbed off on her and she began to discover a wider musical world – her taste for heavy metal & indie came from an older brother and then pop, Afro-beat and Reggae from another.
It’s not common for an African artist – so often labelled as “World Music” – to cite their major influences from genres as diverse as these – even more so for a young Nigerian singer raised in a conservative Christian home. A list that includes artists like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Placebo, Moby, Sound Garden, Jamiroquai, Queen, Aaliyah, Madonna & Cranberries reveal the diversity & range of Samia’s influences. Add to that some local inspiration with the likes of Sade, Fela Kuti & add some Bob Marley, and you know that the resulting music is bound to be fascinating.
The transformation to artist happened after a meeting with Dirin Michael Ovueraye. Back in Nigeria after a stint studying music in the UK, Dirin was also Samia’s best friend’s brother. The two clicked immediately – Samia finding a home for her lyrical ideas and Dirin finally able to add a voice to his instrumental recordings he was developing in a home studio. The two admit that their early work began just for ‘kicks’ but reactions and demands for more from friends encouraged them to keep working. Samia’s school finals meant the pair took a break from recording for a time but got quickly back to work after being approached by an independent Nigerian-South African label called Youngane Productions who wanted to take their music to an international audience. A deal with Sony Music Africa was signed and this is where the rest of the story begins.
Both reflective of her music and her personal style she says, “I go with what I believe is good and what feels great…”
Samia’s rise is just beginning.