Former Miss Zim on 'Conversations with God'

LONDON - “Zuwa” provides a voice to a new self-awareness built upon the rocks of realisation, and an emotional release.
Considering the magnitude of this voice on a journey so close to the heart and soul, I was mesmerised by the voice of the writer and singer Karen Stally.

The former Miss Zimbabwe after having reached the pit with her life battles, found herself writing poetry which she says was “Conversations with God”.

She wrote about her complaints, her fears, her sadness and the rejection she has faced in her life.

After sharing her “personal reflections” with a friend, Karen realised that she could express her words better in music.

Her first song Nothing to Lose came soon after, and this transition from being an actress to a musician was hard for her as she felt she was not hiding behind a character, but felt “stripped, naked, baring my heart to strangers’’.

263 Voices recently caught up with Karen in London for a Question and Answer to speak about her music and new single.

PSN (Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri): Who were your main early musical influences?

KS (Karen Stally) : As a very young child, I loved all the classical musicals, and knew all the words to the songs.

My parents had an eclectic mix of records, and my favourites varied from Carol King and Billie Holiday, to The Stones, Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley.

PSN: What was your journey like venturing out and becoming professional musician, playing gigs, releasing CDs? Do you feel you’ve reached your goals?

KS: Starting out I was very reluctant, but there was a desire very deep within me to fight the fear and give it a shot.

I have grown up around some incredibly successful and talented musicians and singers, and I didn’t feel as though I was good enough.

I did have some experience with Peace of Ebony in the 90’s when I featured on a track with them and we had some great opportunities come out of that.

When I first started gigging as a solo artiste, I was terrified.

I really didn’t feel comfortable sharing my stories. In some ways, the response has surpassed my expectations, but in reality, I’m just getting started.

Life begins at 40 right!?

PSN: Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?

KS: From my experiences, personal or observed. I tend to write when a download comes.

Sometimes that’s whole songs at a time, sometimes it’s just a hook that I might get back to weeks, months or even years later. It’s organic. I receive it when it comes.

PSN: How do you determine what aspects of poetry, and lyrics will work with your musical intent?

KS: Good question... it’s a learning process. It also depends on who is producing the song with me.

I have to work to their strengths, so inevitably something of their expression is felt in the song.

Some poems have become songs that I never expected to.

Somehow the words, melodies and songs have a way of finding each other.

PSN: Who do you admire most in live musical performance?

KS: Undoubtedly Bob Marley. He showed such an honest expression of his music.

There was passion and power in his songs. There were no frills and over the top costumes.

Just a man and his songs to the world. He was able to bring together people from every section of humanity.

He broke barriers. He didn’t play into the hands of commercial success, but he managed to achieve it anyway.

PSN: You have just released a single; please tell us how your new material differs from your older material?

KS: I have just completed a song called African Angel which is part of a compilation double CD called Drum Travel, produced by James Asher and

Sandeep Raval and featuring some incredible artistes from around the world.

This song won’t be available as a single at the moment, but the whole compilation is definitely worth a listen.

I am currently finishing up a track that will be released as a free single very soon.

PSN: What is the feedback you have received in response to your music?

KS: It has been humbling. There has been a great response so far, and I appreciate the encouragement and nominations I have received so early in my musical journey.

All the die-hard supporters are well noted.

I’m still finding my true expression as a singer/songwriter, so I feel the best is yet to come.

PSN: Tell us a bit about the most memorable performance you have had to date.

KS: Two come to mind. The first is in Camden at the “The Stables”.

The other was a live TV performance in Lithuania for their “Human Rights Freedom of Speech” event.

I felt honoured to be called for something so important to me, and everything about the experience was positive.

PSN: What new opportunities are you exploring and developing to advance your music to the general public?

KS: At the moment my focus is on product, building up a library of recorded tracks so I can make use of the different channels open to me.

There are various links in place which I can talk about more when they happen.

PSN: Can we expect a solo ‘’Zuwa’’ tour in the future?

KS: Absolutely. Will keep you posted.

I’m also launching my social enterprise this autumn, so will have to share that with you at some point. It’s called Green Trees Project.

Pamela is a Zimbabwean fashion journalist and fashion accessory designer based in the United Kingdom. She can be contacted on pamsamasuwo@live.co.uk

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