Sampa The Great on celebrating African creatives

May 27th 2022

  • Sampa The Great :: Interview with Bri Kennedy

Sampa The Great is a Zambian-born musician who transverses the barriers of rap, r&b, soul and afrobeat. As an artist, she uses her heritage and experiences to create music that has the power to resonate with and inspire almost anyone. 

Sampa the Great has been a household name in Sydney and Australia more widely since moving here in 2013. Following this extensive success, she took on America, gaining recognition from the likes of Kendrick Lamar. 

In between releasing her latest single ‘Lane’ featuring Denzel Curry and Powers Pleasant and her forthcoming Vivid shows at the Sydney Opera House, Sampa The Great made a pit stop at the FBi studios. She sat down with Bri Kennedy on Arvos to chat connecting with home and heritage and highlighting them through her art.

In 2019 Sampa returned to her birthplace of Zambia. This was something she had planned to do further down the road when she was even more established as an artist. The sudden emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic however fast-tracked her plans and the subsequent travel restrictions extended her stay.

“I wanted to go home and be at a place in my career where I could support other artists, maybe have my own label, be more established as Sampa The Great so I’m able to provide for other artists… But I had to go when my dad got Covid”

Sampa explained to Bri that her trip to Zambia had both personal and external intentions. She wanted to “rediscover who Sampa The Great is from a ‘home’ perspective”, while also discovering and nurturing African artists who may not have the same resources or outlets despite their talent.

“It was a huge thing for me. I have never really been Sampa The Great at home. I’ve always wanted to be this artist at home where we didn’t think it was possible for a Zambian artist to be like this”

Sampa’s desire to highlight African talent has continued upon her return to Australia. As part of Vivid 2022 she is presenting her new show ‘An Afro Future’ over two nights on Friday May 27 and Saturday May 28. ‘An Afro Future’ will bring together Sampa’s sister Mwanjé, KYE and sounds by C.FRIM for a night that highlights artists of all genres from different African backgrounds. In explaining to Bri why she selected these support acts, Sampa had this to say:

“I was drawn to them because I saw a bit of myself in them… Being able to redefine a genre to their own formula.”
“I don’t think there has been a show like this with majority African creatives in one room yet… the diaspora and the continent coming together!”

Sampa’s trip to Zambia was not all personal reflection and mentoring. She told Bri that she spent a large amount of time making music and visual art, exploring new themes that she may not have in Australia. Some of this new music will be debuted at the Sydney Opera House this weekend. Something that Sampa is both nervous and excited about.

“When you release it online you’re like ‘ok I can log off now’ but when you release it and actually see people’s facial reactions to it, it can be really nerve racking… but it’s beautiful to see people react the way you wanted.”

‘An Afro Future’ is shaping up to be an unmissable celebration of Black creatives. To wrap up the interview Bri asked Sampa what she hopes shows like this will do for the future of African and Black artists in Australia.

“There’s a bridge that we’re hoping to build for a lot of the diaspora and I hope that that bridge is fully cemented in the coming years.”
WHO: Sampa The Great, Mwanjé, KYE and sounds by C.FRIM
WHAT: Sampa The Great presents An Afro Future (happening as part of Vivid 2022)
WHERE: Sydney Opera House
WHEN: Fri May 27 + Sat May 28
HOW MUCH: $39 + here

Listen back to the interview up top and check out Sampa The Great’s latest single below.

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