Sabrina …rise of African Pop Princess
Honed in nearby Yaoundé, Sabrina’s soothing voice is seeming larger than just a regional favourite. Across the continent, she stands vibrantly among the league of fresh newcomers, with sonic appeal and thematic discographies.
Starting off her career pursuit from the church, as a teenager, Sabrina developed a strong confidence that would see her soar much quicker than her peers. From singing to her high school peers to recording her first songs after graduation, Sabrina is latched onto her popstar ambitions, edging closer to fulfilling them with every new track.
On her just-released record dubbed, “No Time,” the 22-year-old chanteuse charts a familiar terrain of self-introspection, delving into themes on fidelity and friendship, among others. Her earlier hits like the Koffi Olomide-assisted opus, “Abele”, as well as the TikTok sensation, “Validé”, among others, have been bold pointers to Sabrina’s potentially successful future in the music scene. Her other recent song, “Johnny”, which is dedicated to her Nigerian idol Yemi Alade, also rehashes her hunger for expanding her heritage across both Francophone and Anglophone Africa.
In this exciting sit-down with Guardian Music, Sabrina peels back layers behind her come-up journey, her creative process, as well as her quest to reach the zenith of stardom in Africa’s endearing music scene.
How did you find yourself in music?
Hmmm, I was just this young girl in a very good musical environment. My grandfather used to play guitar, my uncles also play instruments, and my aunty sings. So, in the house there was always music, and people were always singing. So, I grew up with people singing, meanwhile I actually learned how to sing without even knowing I’m actually learning. People will sing, and I will just be with them singing, so, growing up I have just been singing. So, when I got to high school, that is when people actually started complimenting my voice. And I was like oh, okay, so, everytime people know I’m in a hall, they will just come and meet me. And Sabrina please can you sing this for me, can you sing this for me, that’s just it. Then some other classes knew there was this girl in a particular class that could sing. She sings very well, that’s just how people knew me in high school. Sabrina is a singer, so, after I had my advance level, I had the opportunity to make my record label after every production. And since then, we have just been working together, like everything has just been great for me, I’m very thankful.
Interesting, when exactly did you first record music?
Like the first time, I think it was in 2019 or something like that. In my neighborhood where I live, I used to live with my mom. There was this our big brother in the quarter. That has a small record studio, so, when we are free, we just go there and work with him. So, that was where I recorded my , that I used the mic to record for the first time. It was there, and I think it was a match up of many Cameroonian songs. I just do the match up, that’s just it, people shared it. My mom shared it with our family members, but people in school listen to it. And I was just like a superstar in school that was just it. But I didn’t record a song that was called mine, it was just a match up, the first time that I touched the mic to record.
You have released a new song, and music video “No time”. How do you draw inspiration for your music?
Ohh, “No time” is actually a song that means a lot to me. At this point of my career, where a lot of positive things are happening to me. Like I just feel so blessed, a lot of good news everyday. And this good news also, people listen to them, people also know that okay this is happening with Sabrina. There are a lot of, I can say, I don’t know if I can see bad energy, that is coming along with a lot of positive things. So, I cannot actually point to somebody and say, okay you, you are planning to do something bad to me.
You, you are not happy with what is happening to me. So, I just wanted to make it look like an announcement, to tell people. Pass an information and say, okay guys, I see you and I’m very thankful. I thank you all that are really appreciating what I do, and are supporting me. But I know, because actually some people are like, oh Sabrina can I be your friend? I just want to be with you, I just want to be by your side. I just want to be your friend, all of that. I actually see them, I don’t have any issue with that. Or if somebody has good intentions, this song is just telling people that okay, fine, I don’t have problems in making you a friend, but if you know you are coming to me with any bad intentions. If you know you can’t contribute to my growth, if you know you can’t bring something positive to me. Please don’t waste my time begging, please don’t waste my time, because I know I don’t waste people’s time. If you come to me and seek anything, and I know I can’t help you, if I can help you I know I would do it. If I can’t help you, I would let you know, I won’t lie to you. Turning around the corners to pass information to you. I will just tell you directly not to waste your time, so, I wouldn’t want people to waste my time, especially now. I just need to be focused, because I know where I want to go. So, this song is just it
Are you working towards an EP or an album?
I’m actually working on an album, if everything works out as planned, I will release the album this October.
Alright. Your name Sabrina yeah, why did you choose to use that name for your music?
Well, I didn’t see, actually I didn’t see any reason, to change my name to something else. Let’s just say I didn’t have any idea of what to add to the name. Or any other evaluation I could give myself as an artiste. I just decided to keep Sabrina, plus I’m Sabrina I don’t think any other name will fit me as Sabrina. I just decided to keep it like that, I don’t want to change it.
What type of music did you grow up listening to?
Okay, the inspiration. I listen to, not only to the music in my environment. I listen to other music too, actually there are a lot of things happening. Though I will say in the whole world, there are always situations. So, I can just go out today and I see something happening, maybe a fight or something. It just gives me an idea, so, there are a lot of things that can give me inspiration. If there is any crisis, the only way I can say a word is through seeing. So, I can actually use what is happening in the process, add just my voice, and then pass an information for it.
Who are some of the names in Africa’s music scene that you would like to work with?
Yes, I did. So I said I listen not only to the music here in Cameroon. I still listen to other artistes too. I know some artistes. I listen to Tiwa Savage, I listen to Yemi Alade. I listen to Fally Ipupa, I listen to a lot of music. Listening to the music of this artiste, I just pick up, to pick out, what I like in what they do. And I will just add it to my song, and bring out something good out of it, for people to consume.
What about within afrobeats specifically?
I would like to collaborate with Rema. Yeah, because we are young, so, I think the energy will just be so high. I love Wizkid too. Oh my God, he’s so good, I love Wizkid. I love Tiwa Savage; she just seems like a big me, like Sabrina in some years. So, those three artistes are the ones that are really in my head right now.
Navigating the African music industry, as a very young woman, you know comes with it own dynamics. So, how does it feel for you right now, being on this journey?
I would say it is a tough one, but I really thank God, because I’m surrounded with very, very good people. Because if I was alone, I would have given up since, like since. But we are coping, you know when you, there are some things that you experience. You get used to them, and then you know how to pass by, you know how to get off it. So I’m just coping, if I know that thing is going to affect me negatively. I will just put it aside, and I will focus on what I do. The little people that gave me, that support me, I’m very thankful to them. Like I’m very thankful for the people that are with me through, back then till now. I’m really thankful.
So, what would you say are your top two Sabrina songs currently, and why?
Oh my God. Hmmmn, I would say “No time” and, “On the low” the latest ones.
No time because it is like I have freed myself. I just said what I have to say. People are getting it, even under the comments I understand that people are getting it. Plus people are relating to what I’m saying, it’s not only on my side. There are some people that are in the same situation but cannot sing. So, I feel like I have spoken for a lot of people, at the same time. So, no time means a world to me, plus people are really relating to the song. People are leaving comments like, oh I love the song, Sabrina you’re good at what you’re doing. So, these type of comments just make me feel like yeah, I’m actually working, I’m going somewhere. Then on the low because, that song, I recorded “on the low” Immediately I got to Nigeria.
Because I went to Nigeria, months ago when I came back. I just had the inspiration to record on the low, so, I feel like this is just a new energy, a new spirit that is just coming. So, this songs are so special to me, a new vibe, and people are really attached to the vibe. So, I feel like I’m doing good, this is the moment, so, those two songs mean a whole lot to me.
It’s not like my other song doesn’t mean well, but I feel something special about these two songs.
So, tell us some interesting facts about Sabrina.
Ohh, aside from the fact that I love music, I love cooking, I love trying new meals. I watch a lot of Nigerian movies, so, their dishes. The food they eat always looks so good, so I have always been like oh my God, I want to try, I wish I could eat this food. So I have tried cooking egusi soup one time, but not with pounded yam o, I cannot do pounded yam. I have never tried it, but I did it with cassava instead. So, I tried it but I didn’t know if it had the same taste as you people’s own. So, I went to Nigeria, I just saw variety of food, Amala, the same egusi soup with a lot of pepper. So, I like new experiences, and when I see something new, I like to try it. I love cooking, I love dancing, and I’m very funny. People that are with me everyday, they know I’m a very funny person to be with. And I’m also friendly.
Finally, what would you say is the vision for Sabrina? Like what’s next for you?
First off, I just pray people start to see I’m really working hard, to go where I want to go. In some years, I see myself as having chosen, everywhere, every part of the world and then, when not to help this other upcoming artiste grow up? Because I think that is where my own blessings is going to come from like, when I make it, I help other people to also come up and make it. For me that’s just the process, so I see myself very far, and helping other people, then I will be happy with my work.
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