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.
I love jazz because it is in my blood. It is the only original American art form. It is sacred. The greatest musicians are jazz artists.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 listening to my father's records of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young.
I met Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Walter Booker, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Mike
Stern, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Harper, Skip Hadden, Charlie Haden.
The best show I ever attended was Joe Lovano with Soundprints at the Wexner Center in Columbus Ohio in 2014.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Smiles.