Seydu: Sadaka

June 14, 2017

Sing It Forward

Listening Post 103. With his smooth and generous voice, Seydu is poignant in singing about the impact of war, incisive in warning of corruption, reverent about the beauty of African women and upbeat regarding the power of a smile. Such themes animate Sadaka (The Gift), his third album, broadly focused on the redemptive power of giving. Born into a musical family in Sierra Leone—a nation scarred by the slave trade and, more recently, by blood diamonds—Seydu became a refugee, eventually achieving success after prominent Spanish musicians discovered him performing in a Madrid park. He builds his music around maringa, with reggae, jazz, Latin and Afropop seasonings; and his lyrics—in Krio (Sierra Leone’s lingua franca), English and Spanish—around his homeland. The album’s opening anthem, Return to Africa, reflects his own exile and return and his nation’s history of absorbing freed slaves from the Americas: “Never mind rivers of sorrow,” he chants, “Mama calling you back home” (video 1). The title track intertwines benefactor and beneficiary: “Life is just a gift from the soul/Like the joy we feel/When we give things away” (video 2). River Sewa recalls a destructive war—“Source of gold and diamonds/Gleams of water that appear like tears/Wealth that should provide life, peace and glory” (video 3); in interviews, Seydu—who founded the Diamond Child School of Arts and Culture for disadvantaged children—has identified young minds, rather than gems, as his nation’s greatest resource. The album’s closing homage, Desert Rose (video 4), is a duet with the late Sahrawi artist Marien Hassan (singing in Arabic), who spent much of her life in a refugee camp after Morocco took control of Western Sahara. Music alone can’t build nations, but just as one candle pierces the darkness, Seydu’s voice carries far. (Fol Musica)







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