Celebrating Women of African Descent

Music According to Samantha Mogwe

Born to a Zambian mother and a Motswana father, 23 year old Samantha Mogwe’s passion for music stems deep from growing up in a family that loves and appreciates all types of music. Growing up as the youngest of her siblings, Samantha was fortunate her parents encouraged her to follow her artistic talents.

“At the age of 6, our family friends knew I loved to sing and would often make me sing at Christmas and other gatherings. As I grew older, I went into hibernation for a few years until I was 14, where I joined a youth band because I had a huge crush on the bass guitarist in the band. Soon afterwards, I found myself on various stages and platforms, singing and sharing my gift.” She retells of her beginnings with music.

Samantha admits that at the beginning she wasn’t very confident about her abilities. She spent the next years working on her relationship with God, character building, enhancing her vocals and establishing a specific sound that made her unique.

At 22, having matured, Samantha felt ready to handle the pressures that would come with being in the music industry; being vocal and able to speak for herself in terms of her expectations and what she was not willing to do to become famous. She then approached Sauti Arts Management and made a plan for the taking her music to the next phase.

Soulful, fresh and vibrant, a range of Neo-Soul, RnB, Gospel, and Hip Hop to Rock, Pop and even Indi music play a major role in how she creates music. “I try not to box myself into one specific sound but the easiest way to describe my sound is RnB/Neo-soul.” She explains.

Samantha, now 23, has already accomplished a lot in her career that includes winning the Gabz Karaoke Idols in 2004, making it to the top 24 African Idols as the only representative from Botswana and featuring on songs with local artists such as Kast, Andreattah Chuma, Beat Premiers, Concept, Stretch and LEE.

Having spent the past couple of years helping other artists on their projects, she is excited about finally working on her debut album due for release hopefully by mid 2012. “It is a learning process, experimenting with different sounds and working with various people to make it a reality. Over all, I can’t wait to let people hear it.” She says.

Read on for AfroElle’s interview with this Bostwana songbird.

What do your songs speak about, do you have a specific message you hope your listeners will go away with once they listen to your songs?

The songs I have written often stem from personal experiences, either something that I have gone through or something that I have had to witness a friend or family member go through and so I write what I know about. I try by all means to let my character come through my music and try to stay honest. Music in itself is such a powerful tool. And those few bars that you are given to work with speak volumes and even cross social and cultural barriers and so my songs are about life’s struggles, hope, love, change and pushing through trials and tribulations. At the end of the day, I want anyone listening to my music to walk away with the idea that they understand what I am singing about and feel the genuineness. Apart from having lighthearted songs, I want some of the songs to be thought provoking and emotional to a degree.

Who are some of the people who have been instrumental in your musical; journey up to today?

I try to learn from the various people I come across who have been in this industry for longer than me. You can never stop learning and you can never know enough.  Apart from God, some people who have played a huge role in my musical journey include Neo Quashie, Tj Dema, Tcm, Fify Loewen, Juby Peacock. Not all of them are in the music industry but they possess qualities that I feel I can learn them from and aspire to possess.

Being in the industry, have you been faced with any challenges and if so, which ones?

Like any dream, my dream of being a renowned musician and singer has its challenges. Some of these challenges are for example, people wanting to take advantage of your talent in various ways like expecting me to perform for free and record on their songs for free, forgetting that as much as this is an art and a passion, it is also an expensive investment and certain costs are incurred when preparing to perform or giving your time. There is the lack funding when it comes to recording, mastering, distributing and copyrighting music. Also, the Botswana music industry hasn’t gotten to a place where music is taken as a serious art and a way in which someone could make their living.

 What do you see as the future of the music industry in the next 10 years?

The music industry, particularly in Africa has come a long way in terms of perfecting the art. We still have a long way to go, however, I hope to see a shift in terms of more female vocalists coming up, especially in the RnB genre, which is often over-looked. I also hope the channels of getting to the public would become more clear cut and not be based on who you know in the industry.

Away from music are you involved in anything else?

This might come as a shock but I am a 4th year Theological student studying at Baptist Theological College based in South Africa. I am also working for a software company and also working on a huge business project that is in the pipeline.

What words of encouragement would you offer to any aspiring musician?

Don’t be afraid to dream big and don’t stop fighting to make your dreams into a reality.

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