Kadija Kamara: Alternative Soul, Written From The Heart

From the daily hustle of a gruelling nine-to-five, to the studio perfecting her take on what she calls her sound – alternative soul – for this born and bred South Londoner of Sierra Leonean heritage the journey has only just now begun – with the success of her Changes EP and the recent release of her debut single “Talking To Myself.” Afro to side with the style of a chic vintage queen, Kadija Kamara with her sensuous silky tones is no stranger to the stage, having ditched the backseat spotlight of a back-up vocalist to grace the front stage with a new sound. “I don’t follow the trends,” she says. “I just go with what feels good with me. I‘m just trying to leave a positive mark.”

Bringing something fresh to the table incorporating her love for Soul, Jazz, Folk, Rock and World/African, Kamara plans to leave a positive mark on the music industry with her own take on Alternative Soul and emotive song-writing starting with her first piece of solo work, her EP Changes: “I have a lot of appreciation for music really, everything and I would say that everything song that I write reflects a time in my life. Not just my own experience but experiences of others.”

Her four-track EP Changes takes inspiration from different real-life experiences faced by Kadija, with a song that everyone can definitely relate to; “‘Talking To Myself’ is about me feeling like I’m talking to myself but also about respect in relationships, ‘Deeper Than This’ is a love song about getting to know your partner a bit more and understanding each other a bit more in order to get closer to each other,” she explains. “‘I’m Endeavoured’ is about having love with some one like a friend or people who have been there for you while ‘Changes’ is my emotions on things that is going on in society and the world that can get you down.”

Depicting reality was important in the concept for her “Talking To Myself” video; “I wanted the video to be me, not glitzy and glamorous because the reality is, I’m not living a glitzy and glamorous life,” she states. The video shows Kadija around London following the reality of living the life of a striving for fame busker from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square. “I didn’t want the storyline to be cliché. I wanted people to actually want to watch it and think what’s next…”

Known for her prominence on the live circuit, taking time out to focus on the album is a main priority for the up and coming songstress. “Your performance will be remembered and your heart gets that energy and your character comes alive, and when most people hear the record they want to hear it live,” she says. “But I’ve been gigging so much to promote the EP so I was working round the clock and I stopped gigging in July so I could focus all my energy into that one thing – the album.”

She adds, “I kinda want my name to be constantly in people’s tongues… Whether it’s hearing me on the radio or seeing my video, for me there has to be something to fill in the gaps while I’m not gigging.” “You have to keep the momentum going,” she says, with her track with Classic House DJ Joey Negro reaching number one in the DJ charts.

A personal project, the album will showcase more of Kadija’s emotional range; inspired by the passing away of both her Dad and brother last year, whom her EP was dedicated to, she says the album is “written from the heart and it’s just me being honest about life.”

Similarly to her Changes EP, the album will feature tracks about life, love, relationships that people can jam, chill and dance to, further exploring Kadija’s alternative soul. “I try to hold back sometimes ’cause I feel like it’s kind of me airing out my laundry to the public but it definitely has that retro inspired feel.”

“A lot of things that go through any creative’s mind is that they want to be successful and make it,” Kadija says of her dedication and passion for making music her full time dream. And looking back, singing from the tender age of five from starting of in the choir to picking up instruments such as the guitar finding her own love for rock and still for the classic Motown artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, one day it just clicked: “‘This is something that I want to do!’

“It wasn’t something that my parents expected me to do especially coming from a black family,” she says. “And unless they’re a musical family the clever thing to do is to get educated to advance through life, so I thought I’d do the smart thing and get an education too as well doing my music and everything as well.”

Having a degree in Business I.T. may have prepared Kadija for the working path but for the life of an Independent musician and manager of herself, the road has been one full of unpredictable outcomes. “After work I go studio or rehearsal, bed at one or two-ish then up again for work at seven but what makes the journey enjoyable is the people that I have round me. Otherwise I’d be sitting there waiting for a label and things will just fizzle out.”

“People supporting you, the people who press play, the people who come to your gigs push you to where you need be really,” says Kadija; and that is why getting more radio play is the next step up for this soul songstress. “I’ve had a BBC producer pick up my track and play it on BBC London which was great and that was ‘Talking To Myself’ and the feedback from that as well is that they said that the producers really liked it to put it on their playlist but with me not being signed to a label, there’s no pull to push that cut.”

No one ever said it would be easy for a new starter in the music industry but like Kadija optimistically states; “I just wanna cross that bridge and make it to the other side.”

Kadija Kamara online: kadijakamara.com / @KadijaKamara / Facebook / YouTube


Photos by Steve Rutherford

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