Nigeria's ethnic and language diversity is directly reflected in their myriad musical traditions and styles. Sonia Aimy is a singer/songwriter from Benin City, in Nigeria's southern region; raised in a musical environment, she relocated to Italy for serious studies in theater and music, leading to jazz appreciation and performance, which influences her compositions. Wrapped in imaginative lyrics amidst layers of instrumentation, Nigerian Spirit is an incantation for hope, presented with a versatile afro-jazz attitude, blended with highlife, juju music, and traces of gospel.
Aimy is currently based out of Toronto, Ontario, where half of this record was recorded, the remaining sessions were produced in Lagos, Nigeria, and Cotonou, Benin Republic, both on the West African coast. The Africa sessions begin with "Light My Way Mother," hand drum rhythm and flashes of palm wine guitar lines introduce bi-lingual lyrics about maternal guidance in difficult times. Fluent in English and Italian, as well as a score of native African languages, Aimy can seamlessly flow through local dialects and vocal nuances, as on "Chotima," sung in the Obamba language of Gabon.
From the Canadian studio, the title track is Aimys' musical and lyrical outrage at the kidnapping of young Nigerian girls by the Boko Haram terrorists, as the entire world watched, but did nothing. She traces her heritage to the Yoruba people and sings ancestral praises in "Voices Of Orisa." The Yoruban current continues on "Ase," a prayer for peace and love on earth. Aimys' most poignant composition is "Lampedusa," named for the small Italian island in the Mediterranean, where scores of refugees attempt to reach, many dying, in hopes of a better life. In spite of the overwhelming stress it causes the local island residents, the island continues to accept refugees.
The African sessions continue with the afro-pop influenced "Dreaming," and the more serious "Dream For Somaliya," which raises awareness and concern about the struggles and plight of that beleaguered country. As if to end the record on a light-hearted note, "Husband In Canada," is a humorous take on an African woman looking for a husband, comically comparing the men back home to the ones available in Canada.
Sonia Aimy comes from a proud lineage of African women singers, descendants of the griots. She, as those who came before, honor a personal obligation to carry the message for those left behind, back in their homeland, who cannot speak for themselves. Her music is not intended for simple entertainment, it is a shout for justice against human trafficking, famine, war, and a quest for human dignity in a world gone mad. She is the voice of Africa.
Track Listing: Light My Way Mother; Chotima; Nigerian Spirit; Voices Of Orisa;
Dreaming; A Dream For Somaliya; Ase’; Lampedusa; Husband In
Canada; Ase’ Radio Edit; Nigerian Spirit – Radio Edit.
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.