Seven Questions with Sevana.
On the crest of a wave by Sonia Akther.
Savanna-la-Mar, the chief town and capital of Westmoreland, the westernmost parish in Jamaica is where Anna-Sharé Blake was born. Google brings up images of a coastal town with boats and bright blue seas which look idyllic from my attic flat in London. I don’t have Alexa so I manually YouTube ‘If You Only Knew‘ by Sevana and am transported away. On foot, by boat, by car, and motorbike; through Dakar, Senegal, and Portland, Jamaica, in an epic music video directed by Yoram Savion. Sevana’s stunning vocals soar throughout.
Taking her stage name from her hometown, Anna-Sharé began singing Celine Dion songs for family members at the breakfast table at aged eight. She describes her relationship with music as “at the risk of sounding dramatic…my saving grace”; her soulful R&B and that infectious Island rhythm certainly evokes gracious joy.
Sevana’s EP ‘Be Somebody’ is out now and showcases the full range of a versatile vocalist with depth, flow and here to deliver sunny positive vibes for our airwaves. Working with Kelsey Gonzalez, Izy Beats, J Vibe, Protoje, J.L.L. and Paris La Mont Dennis II to create a diverse palette of sounds; all anchored by the incredible talent that is Sevana.
She describes this EP as wanting “to take the listener on a meaningful journey and I think I did that”. We agree and are loving the ride.
Congratulations on the release of your EP ‘Be Somebody’. What can we expect to hear?
Very good music. It’s the best and most ‘me’ music I have ever made; genuinely an honest recollection of feelings, thoughts and times that I tried to forget. It’s passionate, celebratory, sad, and it doesn’t follow a specific genre; I was careful to honour the way the music came out of me and not compromise by making it more this or less that. Plus the producers I had the opportunity to collaborate with have staggering talent and were so good to me. Big up Kelsey, JLL, J Vibe, Izy, Charlie, Bengy, Protoje and Paris!
Your single and video ‘If You Only Knew’ is stunning! How was that journey for you?
I LOVE THAT SONG AND VIDEO! It cheers me up every time I listen to it. Protoje let me hear the beat and I was immediately smitten, wrote the song and recorded the demo in very little time. I ended up having good synergy with Yoram Savion, the video director and Kelsey, the producer of the track. It was pretty painless as far as creation processes go; grateful for when that happens.
What was it like working with Kelsey Gonzalez of Anderson .Paak?
Easy, pleasant and precise! He’s such a gracious man, we worked on the song via the internet so I can’t wait to meet him in person and get to the studio! It’s somewhat unbelievable that I got to work with him. Their crew makes such good music and Anderson is brilliant. What can I say? I am a fan.
The music video and its locations are epic. Do you have any memorable experiences from set to share?
Well at one point, Yoram was hanging out the window of a taxi we rented on a highway, in Dakar Senegal to get steady shots of me on the back of that motorcycle you see me on, while dodging traffic and trying to hear the music so my lips would be in-sync with the lyrics. That was exciting and an adrenaline rush.
I love that your stage name is after the coastal town in which you grew up. It sounds very idyllic…
Well, it’s not so much idyllic; it’s hot, congested with traffic, by the sea — though I was never allowed to go into the sea because my mother wouldn’t let me. It’s a town with its issues but mostly easy-going and slow. If I were to romanticize it, I’d say it was the only place for me to grow up to be as resilient as I am today. That is where I find strength in calling myself Sevana because it reminds me of how this all started.
What were you listening to growing up?
Celine Dion, Anita Baker, Toni Braxton, Kenny Rogers, Percy Sledge, The Manhattans, Beres Hammond, Gregory Issacs, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Beenie man, Sanchez. Honestly it’s a long list — my mother kept a lot of cassettes.
If you had to sum up Sevana for us in 7 words, what would they be?
Thoughtful, loud, sensitive, curious, energetic, misunderstood, daring.