Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Sevana

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Sevana over Zoom video! 

Born Anna-Sharé Blake in Jamaica’s parish of Westmoreland, Sevana coined her name after Savannah-La-Mar, the picturesque coastal town where she grew up. Her musical awakening began at eight years old over a hearty Sunday morning breakfast, when she broke out in an impromptu rendition of Celine Dion’s “A New Day” for her family. She has come a long way since this epiphany at such an early age to now fulfilling her passions to the fullest.

The 28-year-old singer, who is also an actress and model, is a quintessential triple threat of talent. Her burgeoning abilities are now backed by reggae star Protoje’s management and label company In.Digg.Nation Collective. Sevana recently signed with Six Course/RCA Records as part of In.Digg.Nation’s partnership to release her major label debut. Hailing from Jamaica gives any artist a certain legitimacy, but it also brings certain expectations — ones which Sevana lives up to and exceeds. While reflecting the island’s musical sensibilities in some ways, her vocals are strongly influenced by modern R&B, evoking such soul queens as Beyoncé, Jazmine Sullivan and Adele.

Although Sevana got her musical break in 2008 with the girl group SLR, placing third place on Digicel Rising Stars (Jamaica’s equivalent of American Idol), it was not until years later that her career came into focus. In 2014, she impacted the chorus of  “Sudden Flight” from Protoje’s album Ancient Future. She made regular live appearances alongside Protoje and his band Indiggnation. Instantly comfortable, confident and engaging in live performances, she flourished on stage. In July 2015, she joined the Ancient Future Tour across Europe where she got her first taste of life on the road.

Her 2016 self-titled EP was a six-song project that shared honest stories from her childhood, feelings of love and thoughts of letting go. Sevana’s first European solo tour followed. Two years later the singer delivered her infectious anthem “Sometime Love.” The single received heavy rotation in Jamaica and the U.K. (featured as BBC 1Xtra’s Mista Jam’s “Jam Hot” Record of the Week). Sevana has also recorded live sessions for BBC in Jamaica with David Rodigan. In Summer 2019, she dropped her upbeat dancehall-flavored jam “Nobody Man” (released via Easy Star Records/In.Digg.Nation Collective), which showcased her “stunning vocal range” (COMPLEX). Later in the fall, she joined a cast of Jamaica’s leading singers – including Jaz Elise, Lila Iké, and Naomi Cowan – on the all-female riddim compilation Rock & Groove. Sevana’s contribution “Haul and Pull” was selected as the Coldest Record for BBC Radio 1 with Toddla T.

Over the past year, Sevana landed festival performances at Boomtown (UK), Reggae Geel (Germany) and Rototom Sunsplash (Spain), Sole DXB (Dubai) and joined Protoje on some of his major shows, including BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! NYC concert and Jamaica’s largest annual music festival Reggae Sumfest. Sevana has earned notoriety by The FADER, NYLON, COMPLEXVICE/Noisey, BBC (1Xtra), LargeUp and graced the cover of RIDDIM Magazine’s SPRING 2019 issue. In addition to her singing career, she played the starring role in the groundbreaking Jamaican web series, Losing Patience, which aired on the country’s most popular TV network TVJ. Her photogenic, naturally radiant look has made her a favorite of photographers and fashion labels. Most recently, she was included in PUMA Middle East’s 2020 campaign along with labelmate Lila Iké.

Be Somebody, Sevana’s 2020 EP is the next chapter in her song book. This latest release consists of all-new tracks that peel off Sevana’s layers in a metamorphosis of self, reflecting on personal growth, love and relationships.

The EP’s title track “Be Somebody” sets an aspirational tone of Sevana becoming an individual and reaching one’s full potential despite overwhelming feelings of doubt amidst the pressures of the world. “Let me be greater than this,” Sevana wails with intensity. One of the album’s crown jewels is “Set Me On Fire,” produced by Protoje, J.L.L. and Paris Lamont Dennis II. It is a tale of revenge in a relationship where she turns her tragedy into triumph. On the more flirtatious track “Mango” produced by J.L.L., Sevana has space to flow in her sultry Jamaican accent over a minimal backdrop of airy synths and tickling guitar notes. Sevana’s benediction of how far her love and loyalty would travel on the EP’s first single “If You Only Knew” is even more contagious sung in her falsetto. Kelsey Gonzalez, producer and guitarist for Anderson .Paak’s Free Nationals band is at the helm of this track.

Sevana’s Be Somebody EPcaptures her quest to self discovery, complimented with minimally eloquent stripped-down production that gives room for her soaring vocals and emotive lyrics to take center stage.

“For the EP, I wanted to add songs that covered various thoughts and my beliefs. I took the bars off my mind. I did not want to compromise sonically, so I  just wrote, in an honest way, honoring the melodies as they came out of me. I wanted to take the listener on a meaningful journey and I think I did that,” Sevana says about her latest body of work.

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