In honor of International Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting Seyi Shay, a Nigerian-English songwriter and singer who has been navigating and redefining her music career as a black female. As an artist, not only has Seyi Shay challenged normative music sounds, but she has also showcased her love and appreciation of the diaspora through captivating imagery, and representation of black culture in her music videos.
Although Seyi-Shay's music has been categorized as a combination of both Afrobeats and R&B, she has stated that she believes her music spans across different genres. Shay validated this statement with her hit single Yolo Yolo in the early months of 2017. Not only did she push musical boundaries in an industry where female talent has been significantly underrepresented, but she also challenged the normative sound of what we know today as Afrobeats by fusing together Salsa and Afrobeat sounds.
“When I made Yolo Yolo, what was on my mind was the Fela Kuti sound,” She says. “I read somewhere that it was a part of his inspiration. Certain parts of Africa have adopted this sound as their own. Nigeria is one of the inventors of the Salsa sound”
Like Shay stated in her statement, the majority of musical sounds in the diaspora have all been entangled and inspired by one other. Particularly with the displacement of millions of Africans who faced the traumas of slavery, Nigerian Yorubas who were enslaved in Cuba made huge cultural contributions to what we know now as Cuban society.
In Yolo Yolo Shay brought her visual inspirations to life. In the music video which was filmed in Cuba, Shay’s use of vibrant colors and interaction with local Cubans portrayed the cultural linkage between Cubans and Nigerians. Her use of cultural facial paint, long black braids, ankara printed salsa dress, pays homage to Africans on the continent and the Afro-latinas of the diaspora.
As her music continues to take a new direction, Seyi Shay's goal is to merge both Salsa and Afrobeat to carve a musical niche for herself. In her most recent song Bia, released in February 2018, Shay blows us away again with her salsa instruments, vibrant colors, spanish tongue, and fusion of ankara printed clothing.
Want to see for yourself how awesome and innovative our #GirlBoss Seyi Shay is? Watch and listen for yourselves:
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