2022 has been a year of strong emotions for Sampa Tembo, a singer known by the stage name Sampa The Great. Born in Zambia, South Central Africa, the artist had one of her songs included in Barack Obama’s playlist, graced the cover of the Australian edition of NME, was invited to open Billie Eilish’s tour in Australia and lands in Brazil. this week for presentations in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
“My mom was super proud of me and said, Wow! This is real work. The former US president is recognizing you,” says Sampa The Great to GLMRM about having the song “Energy” included on Obama’s famous playlist, alongside Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Prince and more. Of the concerts she will be doing in September with Billie Eilish in Australia, she says: “From what I’ve seen, her concerts look like rockstar concerts, and we’re rockstars on the rise. We want to establish our rockstar status.”
And, the 29-year-old singer’s achievements don’t stop there. Her debut, “The Return” (2019), which puts hip hop, R&B, soul music and African rhythms in the same blender, has received countless accolades around the world and won several awards. The work won three out of six nominations at the ARIA Music Awards, four categories at the Music Victoria Awards and, most desired, Album of the Year at the coveted Australian Music Prize (AMP). “Continental artists are as good or even better than artists from all over the world,” she says.
Now, Sampa The Great’s big step is to conquer the Brazilians. The artist performs this Wednesday (17) in São Paulo, at Audio, and Thursday (18) in Rio de Janeiro, at Circo Voador. In São Paulo, the opening will be by the singer Bebé, with DJing by Discopédia and DJ Tamenpi, while in Rio de Janeiro, MC NINA will play before the main attraction, with Tropicals and DJ Nepal commanding the dance floor. Both presentations are part of Quero!.
According to her, the shows in the country will have “a lot of energy and a lot of African musical culture”. That is, it is not for nothing that Obama and Billie Eilish conquered.
Check out the full interview:
Glamurama: It’s your first time in Brazil. What can fans expect from your shows?
Sampa The Great: I bring a lot of energy and a lot of our cultural music to the shows. So you can definitely expect a lot from that. My whole family is my band too, which means it’s going to be a whole band from Zambia; so you can be sure there will be lots of energy and lots of ‘house music’.
How would you define your sound for Brazilians who don’t know your work yet?
It’s a mix of things. My producer and I call it hybrid music, because we mix kalindula [estilo de música popular na África]zamrock [estilo de música criado na Zâmbia em 1970], hip hop, R&B and soul music. We’re mixing all these things that influenced us growing up with our traditional music.
The song “Energy” entered the playlist of Barack Obama. How did you feel to see his music along with so many other great names in world music in the choice of the former US president?
I was very honored to be recognized on such a grand scale. My mom was super proud of me and said, “Wow! This is real work. The former US president is recognizing you.” So that made me a little more important to my family.
In September you will be opening some shows on Billie Eilish’s Australian tour. How did the invitation go? And are you a fan of hers?
The invitation was made about four or five months ago. My manager said to me, ‘I’m putting her name to open for Billie’s shows in Australia,’ and I was like, ‘Wow! This is too much.’ I find her extremely creative and will be great for expanding our audience. From what I’ve seen, her shows look rockstar, and we’re rockstars on the rise. We want to establish our rockstar status. Our shows have as much energy as we see hers, and there’s a lot of artistic brilliance with visuals and dancers.
It’s not uncommon for Zambian artists to rise to prominence in world popular music, and you’re shining brightly with sold-out shows, appearing on magazine covers and winning awards with “The Return” record. How do you see this? Do you feel like we’re breaking paradigms by looking at artists from all over the world?
At this point, we just want to be able to create a new place for young Zambian artists where they don’t have to ‘look like this’ or ‘speak like this’ or ‘be from this place’ to be recognized. Continental artists are as good or even better than artists from all over the world and sometimes we don’t have the same opportunities. So it’s really about breaking new ground in hopes that young Zambian artists can follow it.
Do you know something about Brazilian music? Do you like any artists here?
I don’t know much about Brazilian music. I know some amazing DJs, but I don’t know much and I’m really looking forward to learning about Brazilian music and Brazilian artists. I know that some traditional Brazilian music is linked to traditional African music, which makes me very excited. So I’m super excited to learn about it.
What do you intend to do in your free time in Brazil?
Anything that has to do with water, music, dance and the arts. That’s what I’d like to do.
A curiosity: Did you know that “Sampa” is the nickname that Brazilians gave to the city of São Paulo?
Yes I know. I had a friend from São Paulo who lived with me in Australia, and she always told me that Sampa is the nickname they give to São Paulo.
SÃO PAULO – Sampa The Great Show
Clue: Discopedia and DJ Tamenpi
Date: Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Address: Avenida Francisco Matarazzo 694, Água Branca – São Paulo (SP)
Opening of the house: 20h
Rating: 18 years
Ticket Values: from R$ 140 (solidarity half-price)
Ticket Sales: Audio Ticket Office (Avenida Francisco Matarazzo, 694 – Monday to Saturday, from 1 pm to 8 pm) and on the Ticket360 app or website:
RIO DE JANEIRO – Sampa The Great Show
Opening: MC NINA
Clue: Tropicals and DJ Nepal
Date: Thursday, August 18, 2022
Location: Flying Circus
Address: R. dos Arcos, s/n – Lapa, Rio de Janeiro (RJ)
Opening of the house: 21h
Rating: 18 years
Ticket Values: from R$140 (solidarity half-price)
Ticket Sales: Circo Voador Ticket Office (R. dos Arcos, s/n – Lapa, Rio de Janeiro – RJ) – from Tuesday to Friday, from 12pm to 6pm; on event days, 1 hour before the gates open until the start of the main show; and on the Eventim website: