Tue | Mar 21, 2023

Floda Graé eyeing J’ can market

List Spice, Shenseea in Top 5 playlist

Published:Saturday | February 4, 2023 | 12:50 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Emerging South African R&B-Afropop star Floda Graé was 12 when she first penned lyrics.
The single ‘Decapitate Me’ opened doors to great opportunities for Floda Graé.
Floda Graé named female dancehall artistes Spice and Shenseea as two of her favourites from Jamaica.

She has not yet set foot into one of the island’s international airports, but Floda Graé has her trip to Jamaica mapped out mentally and musically. From the street dances to the white-sand beaches, the emerging R&B-Afropop star out of South Africa finds it all intriguing and said there is “no better time for us to be collaborating” across the two countries and genres.

“The interest I have in collaborating with artistes is at the global level, but there are similarities and connecting ties between our cultures that influence my wanting to reach the Jamaican talent and audience,” Floda Graé told The Gleaner.

She added, “I’m coming out of a generation of young listeners [so] I’m still learning ... It is because of mainstream [music and artistes] why I’ve become familiarised with reggae and dancehall culture in Jamaica, and through listening to South African reggae icons like Lucky Dube that made me first know reggae music and newer acts like Nicki Minaj, who manages to twist her Caribbean flavour into her raps that keep me connected.”

Floda Graé named female dancehall artistes Spice and Shenseea as two of her favourites from Jamaica, but has also shared a desire to work with some of the talented males of her generation.

“I have always been the type of person who does not like to start naming names, only because people have this way of thinking that because I don’t [name] a person, it means that I don’t want to work with him or her. I’ve been getting to hear more of Spice and Shenseea, both of whom make mainstream music, so they’re in the top of my playlists,” she said. “The thing is, what we are exposed to on the Internet and on social media does not necessarily define any culture, and I’m sure there are lots more Jamaican artistes who I could learn from [about] what it means to make real reggae and dancehall music that captures the culture in every essence of the meaning.”

Signed to one of Africa’s biggest talent agencies, List Entertainment, Floda Graé joins a star-studded roster including WizKid, dubbed one of the most influential Afrobeats artistes of all time and is represented by Down 2 Earth Productions. She is of musical ancestry and would have started her own career in her teenage years.

The enchanting singer-songwriter shared, “The first time I penned my lyrics, I was around the age of 12. The first kind of music I was introduced to was that of the soulful Motown artistes out of America, and that was through my grandmother – she was a singer and performed with all the greats like Miriam Makeba. [But] she was never allowed to pursue her music career. You could always tell when my grandmother was arriving home; her voice could be heard from the road and pathways to the house. Half of the people whose music she would play or sing, [I] didn’t even know their names, just the lyrics and melodies of the songs, and she inspired me through music.”

In 2016, she made her debut in the music industry with an R&B single titled RNB, followed by the release of Decapitate Me, which took the industry by storm. Decapitate Me landed her the South African Metro FM Award nomination and opened doors to other great opportunities for her. She has since worked with South African hitmakers, such as DJ Spectacular & Naves, DJ Tira, Nadia Nakai, and Naak Musik and boasts the tagline, ‘I am God’s Gifts To African Beats’.

The up-and-coming singing sensation also shared a yearning to spread authentic South African music, such as Amapiano, which serves as the backdrop for some of her timeless hits, she said. Her latest single, Iyona Le, which features notable Nigerian classical and contemporary guitarist Fiokee, touches on the culture and traditions of where Floda Graé is from.

“I feel what is happening from African music is amazing, especially for Amapiano, because it’s a genre that is so underrated in South Africa. It’s quite old, going back a decade, and started out as a sound without a name. The genres in Africa keep expanding, and the dynamics are remarkable to watch and listen to. Seeing how different persons interpret Amapiano is interesting, and just listening to different music and hearing the roots of it that people add their twists to, [it] shows how much we are reaching the world. I’d love to see how an artiste in Jamaica adds their flavour to it,” Floda Graé said.

The African music sensation also enriches the high-energy song with flavour by adding a dash of English and Zulu. The words, ‘iyona le’, which translates to ‘this is the one’ she explained, speaks to emotional growth and the beauty of coming from nothing and making something of oneself. Floda Graé also speaks about being untouchable and being raised in a township, and understanding the role of patience and timing in her musical pursuit.

“I’ve evolved emotionally as an artiste …not just as an individual. A lot of our music comes from emotion, and I was a teenager who barely understood certain emotions when those songs were released. Now, more than ever, I am intact with my artistry for people and not of my own emotions. I have been through a lot … got into the industry at a young age, and I wouldn’t have survived without the music. I want persons to grasp the spirituality of my music and allow it to help them heal because it is something that has helped me,” she said.

“My dream is to become Africa’s brand ambassador, creating timeless music that will resonate with the young and old of every race and gender. So, listening to the music of others is not enough for me. I want to get deep into the culture and make the connections. Jamaica and the Caribbean, I am ready, though I feel I may need a couple days to recover from the nightlife when I finally do get to experience it,” Floda Graé continued with a laugh.