Last year we spoke with Sifa about her life and her journey into music. Now, we sit down with her to catch up about her music, her return to Roots N Blues, and her upcoming move to The Big Apple.
Interviewer: Starting off, can you talk to me about your experience playing the festival last year?
Sifa: My experience last year was like a dream. It happened so fast and it was so beautiful and the way that everyone was so welcoming and so nice and so supportive really made me feel happy to be from Columbia and happy to be a part of this community. To be in this community that does something beautiful like Roots N Blues.
Interviewer: What was your reaction this year to being asked to play the festival again?
Sifa: I was like yes—absolutely! What else could I say? I could never turn down playing Roots N Blues. It was such a good experience that whenever you guys need anything I will forever be so happy to help.
Interviewer: And what did you think of the lineup when you saw it and the stage you’ll be on? Who are you most excited for this year?
Sifa: I was literally just like…I started dancing to “Freedom,” Jon Batiste’s song. I was just like, yes. Such a beautiful [lineup.] Chaka Khan, Tanya Tucker. I started dancing because I was speechless, but dance moves—I had dance moves to go and I just moved. I’m so excited. I was mind-blown that you got all these good people coming to Columbia.
Interviewer: Without giving us too much information, can you give us an idea of what to expect from your set this year?
Sifa: Um… Fun, fun, fun. Dance, dance, fun. If I could say anything.
Interviewer: So what have you been working on in the last year musically? Have you put out any new releases? What have you been writing?
Sifa: I’m releasing a new single soon called “Textiles and Apparel Management.” But I’ve been working on music, so much music, and been working on a couple projects. And I’ve just been trying to figure out when the right moment is to put it out. I’m moving to New York and I want to find more people to work with cause on some of my songs, I don’t really like the production of it, so I want to find more people to work with. So, moving to New York! But yeah, I’ve just been working on new music [and] playing so many shows in Columbia.
Interviewer: Where have you been playing?
Sifa: I played Rose, East Side, True/False. I’ve been playing festivals and things. I just played at Art in the Park, I just played Peddler’s Jamboree.
Interviewer: You said you want to work on new music in New York, anything else that’s bringing you to the city?
Sifa: All my friends are there. Everybody that I went to school with went to New York. And so that I can go back and help with the [African Music Scholars Foundation.] (In Sifa’s last interview, she explained she’s been working with AMSF for several years now. It helps gives scholarships to African students so that they can come study music at American schools.) The foundation is in New York. They’re there, all my friends are there, the music scene there is where it would be most helpful for me. So, that is where I’m going. And I have friends who are already working in the industry so I’m excited to work on projects with them and song-write a lot and perform a lot and be in the city.
Interviewer: Is the foundation still something your using your music to [elevate]?
Sifa: Yeah, but it’s not really with my music. It’s like, me as a person. My music, my artistry—and I think that’s what this year has kind of given me time to figure out: how to separate my artistry from my philanthropy. I want to do both so passionately, so much, but my music has nothing to do with me helping people and with me wanting to help people and me trying to figure out how to help people. But my artistry is first. And then my philanthropy is next, if that makes sense. I’m twenty-four. I get to live and learn and make my life up. It’s so fun.
Interviewer: Absolutely! I’m so excited you’ll be in the city. Do you have it planned out, when you’re going to leave? Or will it just be when the time feels right?
Sifa: I’m leaving in August. I know I’m leaving in August. I have my last shows coming up and a friend of mine, Audrey, has been doing a documentary on me this past year.
Interviewer: Oh my gosh! Talk to me about that.
Sifa: It’s a documentary about Sifa. It’s about me. It’s a really beautiful documentary and it’s actually showing at a festival in New York in March. It’s [about] me as an artist. It’s not the person, Sifa, it’s the artist, Sifa. But the person and the artist are kind of melted together, but not really.
Interviewer: Is that something that will be publicly available eventually?
Sifa: Yes, it will be eventually. There’s gonna be a showing at Cafe Berlin the 29th of July. People can come and watch it and come see—I’ll be playing a set in front of it, so it’ll be really beautiful. And I think that’ll be one of my last shows in Columbia so you get to see the documentary of what’s been going on this past year, but also seeing me as an artist and me as a black woman. All this intersectionality, it’s really cool.
Interviewer: Lastly, are there any other projects or announcements you want to talk about?
Sifa: Music’s gonna be coming out. Can’t really say too much about it. Those are pretty much all my updates. Love to the world. People are amazing. I’m so excited that Roots N Blues has given me a chance to show how much I’ve developed in a year. It gives me time to show my growth and time to show my journey. And so I’m really excited for people to see where I am now and where I’ll be in October.