“They say don’t tell people about your dreams, show them.” Signed to Virgin Records in Sweden, Sa’ra Charismata is telling us about how she got started with music.
Sa’ra Charismata, how did it all begin for you?
As a child music was mainly about showmanship and entertainment and a way to get my parents’ attention. I used music to hustle kids in school. I’d sing tunes and do voice impressions on the playground and in exchange kids would give me their candy. I guess I realized my gift of music as a tool to assert influence early on. I wrote and recorded my first set of songs when I was 14. I used to download instrumentals from Napster and Kazaa and sing over it too. You know, just grindin’ with whatever means were available to me.
I’ve experimented with different forms of expression and genres over the years. But my artistry came full circle when I discovered the activist in me. I had just turned 18 years old when I moved to the U.S. for college. Once I got there I experienced a different reality than the happy melting pot “where everyone belongs” depicted in the American shows that I grew up watching. I remember my first few weeks at university in Colorado wondering why all the black kids would always sit together in the dining hall, away from the white kids. The classrooms were mixed but outside the classroom it was something else. It didn’t take long before I had experienced campus racism first-hand. I had heard about other black students on campus being subjected to racial slurs, but it was a very personal incident, being called a “Black F*cking N***er” and having my life threatened by my roommate, and friend at the time, that really triggered the activist in me. Tired of feeling marginalized I chose to feel empowered instead. And it wasn’t long before two college professors, Dr. George Junne and Dr. Hermon George, took me under their wings and inspired me to become a social justice and rights activist leader on campus. I became a well-known voice for change; I was elected president of the campus organization “Summit Organizing Committee on Social Justice and Diversity (SOC)” and I was the first student invited to join a campus bias response team, which included the president of the University and the Board of Trustees.
Pop music can play an important role in getting your message of social criticism across. Today, I devote my time wholeheartedly to writing and performing music. With every lyric, with every note, with every melody that I write, I have chosen to address the critical issues of our generation.
Congratulations on your signing! How did all of this come together?
Thank you! Well, I self-released Mushroom on Spinnup and the song was picked up by P3 over the summer and Nicke Rune at Virgin/Universal heard it on the radio and hit me up through Spinnup Project Manager Erik. I met with Nicke and Nora at Virgin and the rest is history. Some things in life are undeniable. When it’s something real you just know. You know?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
They say don’t tell people about your dreams, show them. But I will say this. I always strive for greatness and the rest I leave up to God. See I wait for inspiration to hit first and only act once and only if inspiration has hit. I have often been told I should write music everyday. What for? What will I have observed and learned in a day’s time? Isn’t the point of art to communicate authentically? To go through a “hero’s journey” and come out the other end with a piece of information, or better yet, more questions?
What’s happening next?
I am releasing a new song! I feel this is my best work to date! This one really came to me as a blessing. The title is still pending and I think it will be released this month or next. This is a very exciting time to be at Virgin Records!
If you would give Spinnup artists some advice, what would it be?
Time is your best friend. Don’t treat it as your enemy. We are always seeking for instant approval or validation, and let’s be honest; the music industry is one of the harshest in the sense that the litmus test for success is mass approval. But your time will come when it’s supposed to and if it hasn’t happened yet it’s because there is something you are supposed to learn that you have not learned yet. In fact, I would say be thankful that you have not been thrown into the lion’s den prematurely and enjoy the journey.