AMA, a young vibrant Zimbabwean songstress embodies the essence of contemporary artistry in terms of self-expression and embracing one’s independence. Independent of thought and of voice, the lovely songbird can also hold no punches when it comes to deliberating her message. She lives her truth and speaks it!
Being a lady with a head strong attitude, AMA makes it clear that she’s all about living her full purpose in music and that’s just it for her (do not ask her to ever consider anything else). AMA’s new single, Folklore, alongside fellow Zim artist LoveDale Makalanga (DJ Discord) is currently doing the rounds online. Lavatory Records had the opportunity to delve into the AMAzing abstract mind and AMAzon-like personality of the singer: AMABEYOND!
Lavatory Records: Who is AMA and what is the meaning behind the name?
AMA: I see AMA as a space I dream of, where all is well and good, peaceful, loving, excellent, and fulfilling. The meaning of the name is infinite and abundant love.
LR: How did your music career come about?
AMA: I was heard to be singing well by my parents at a very young age, so the story goes. I remember being introduced to music by my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Morrow. She was so beautiful. I believe I was in 2nd grade or so. That class was a magical place to me. We would sing songs, dance around the carpet, and be happy, – for an entire class period! I thought it was just great. Then, I started playing the tenor saxophone for a couple of years and was in my first talent show in the middle school, where I sang live, the national anthem, for the first time in my life. Soon afterwards, I briefly abandoned music altogether and started playing basketball in junior high! Music found a back door though, and my school decided to have an American Idol contest called, “Knox Idol,” It was a big deal for me. It lasted over a month or so, and my parents were so supportive! They spent too much money buying all these Karaoke CDs with 14 songs on them every week just so I could practice and perform 1 of them! (This was before YouTube.) It was so sweet. I got third place! Lol, and the experience of preparation and precision for the sake of music, was a kind of exertion I came to love. As I was in the first days of preparing to enter high-school, (still a basketball player,) the high school choir teacher, Mrs. Moody, took me into her office and told me that I needed to quit basketball and join choir! Haha! and I did! I remember my first day of choir class, I started in the amateur class, I heard my voice soar above all of the other students’ so beautifully, and I thought to myself – wow – I’m good at this. I was in the chamber choir by the next year, focusing on classical music whilst simultaneously singing in church and a pop-chorus group called “Rhythm & Blues,” I did this throughout high-school and towards the end, started exploring song-writing at my home studio as well as doing musical theater (of which I went on to study at Howard University). Throughout college, I performed in the region with my band, and released my first EP, “Eyes of Seven.” After college, I moved to New York and began my mission to develop a new sound and transcend all traditional music forms in an authentic way. This process continued on to LA, and finally, Zimbabwe. I’m happy to say that I found my voice! And it will be heard most clearly in my coming first album, “GOODBYE KING JAMES!”
LR: Who have been your greatest influences in terms of your sound?
AMA: I think my sound is not limited to musical influences, I’m influenced by my entire journey, and that of others as well. I do love certain classical musicians whose music I have encountered throughout my life and studies, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin. I also love contemporary classical musician, Eric Whitacre. I love alternative musicians such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead, and The Gorillaz. I love country singers, Shania Twain and Lee Ann Womack. I also very much appreciate the skills and expressions of contemporary popular-culture Artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West, and Jay Z. I think, though, If I had to choose the source of my greatest influence, it would be a feeling within, a deep desire to simply exist well, happily, fruitfully, and progressively.
LR: What’s been your experience as an artist in Zimbabwe?
AMA: It’s been incredibly enlightening to directly experience the force that a cultural and national boundary exerts on the artistic expressions that arise out of that space. Growing up in the states, my definition of pop-music was anything, from the states, that played on major platforms. I then realized that pop-music is a phenomenon that manifests in any state and can co-exist with global pop-music, whilst being compartmentalized or held to a different standard by its local audience. This was amazing to me. I walked into an environment that had its own, very rich, musical history and identity. The world, for example, has Bob Marley, Zimbabwe had Andy Brown, the world had the Beach Boys, Zimbabwe had the Bhundu Brothers. Contemporarily, the world has John Mayer, Zim has LoveDale Makalanga, Zayn Malik/Jah Praiser, Adele/Cynthia Mare, and the list goes on. The music of these counterparts doesn’t sound remotely alike; however, the Artists occupy similar spaces of societal and energetic representation. They speak and sing for the classes, age groups, cultures, and images from which they emerge, be it historic ghettos, working class spaces, freedom fighters, diaspora perspectives etc, – all the while conversing with the vast history of their Artistic predecessors and being a part of an increasingly global existence. Local Zimbabwean audiences are very conscious of the international music scene; however, in good and bad times alike, they always need to hear their sound in the air. Though they may listen to a new global hit, they will still pay to hear evolutions of their traditional instruments, (such as the Mbira and Djembe drums,) and they still need to hear their language. So then, while it has been a great pleasure and privilege to converge with and be inspired by local, Zimbabwean, expectations. It’s taught me to allow myself to vehemently seek out and express my sound, instrument, and language, at all times, and to provide myself with a sense of where I come from, which is essentially a fusion of cultures, an African spirit, and a human spirit. The position that doing so continually cultivates for me, within the Zimbabwean and international sonic ether, is proving to be a very grounding, liberating, and exciting position to discover indeed!
LR: Which three acts out there would you most like to collaborate with?
AMA: I’m currently appreciating delving deep into my oneness and feel the need to ride that wave for the time being. I’m going with the flow and very grateful to have worked with LoveDale Makalanga as his vast knowledge of Shona music, beautiful sound, and lengthy industry presence, have been a privilege to absorb.
LR: Any forthcoming projects that you’re working on you’d like to tell us about?
AMA: Yes yes yes! My First Album – “GOODBYE KING JAMES”
LR: What do you get up to in your spare time away from music?
AMA: I love to eat and explore vegan meals and desserts, read, write, chat with my besties, watch movies, and shop. I love beauty and fashion!
LR: Anyone you’d like to acknowledge so far in your music journey?
AMA: I would like to thank my family, my best friends, LoveDale Makalanga, and the Zimbabwean Art community for embracing me and providing me support and opportunities to develop as a creative being.