VIDEO: Sevana: A fullness of self

BY CANDIECE KNIGHT

Monday, September 23, 2019

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THERE are some things that Sevana (born Anna-Sharé Blake) will forgive a man for doing, and some things that she won't. Take for example the fact that she is woman enough to forgive her father's absenteeism while she grew up poor in Savanna-la-Mar, but will not lower her standards when it comes to the men she allows into her life romantically.

She sings about the latter in her most recent effort Nobody Man, which was released this summer. The 27-year-old boldly told All Woman that lyrics such as Mi nah give myself to nuh man if it mean seh me haffi go eat some bun, cah me too bright and mi heart too pricey are not just catchy words on a beat, but a message that needs to be promoted.

It wasn't until Sevana wrote the song, however, that she realised how timely the message is, which counters the saturation of music that glorifies 'side chicks' and part-time relationships.

“When I wrote the song I was thinking specifically of a personal situation where a friend of mine had a girlfriend, and she thought that I was interested in him, and it kind of made everything turn sour, and it upset me,” she shared. She also used the track to send a clear message of disinterest to men who think she will play the role of the 'other woman'.

“I don't think it's fair to yourself to do that, and I don't think it's fair to the person that you're in the relationship with,” she argued. “There's just too much emotional trauma and the person you're with will always be second-guessing and wondering if you're cheating on them. I feel like in the climate of 'take a gal man' culture, it is something that needs to be said.”

But while the singer, actress, film director, and model can now deliver this message with braggadocio before large crowds globally, she had to learn this, and many other life lessons, the hard way.

“I know for sure that if I had a relationship with my father, I definitely would not have been in some of the relationships I chose to be in,” she said, as she reflected on her childhood in a poor single-parent home in Westmoreland. She spoke humbly of the times when her mother just did not have the money to send her and her brother to school, or even buy food for them to eat, and how grateful she was for her caring neighbours on Segree Street, who would help out whenever they could.

She had no relationship with her father as she strived through Unity Primary and matriculated to Manning's School. She did not have his help at 14 years old when she realised she no longer wanted to become a doctor, and was unsure which career path to take. He was not there to celebrate when at 16, she led the trio SLR to place third in local talent competition Rising Stars. He was not there when she sunk into depression from seeing all her friends going off to university, and knowing that she could not afford it, and she still did not know what she wanted to do with her life.

But none of that stopped her from reaching out to her father two years ago, determined to get to know him, and understand his side of the story.

“I know him now, because one of the things that I was able to do was forgive him. I never thought that I was ever going to be able to do that, but with me developing a relationship with God, and different things on my heart becoming urgent for me to resolve, I forgave him, as well as a lot of other things that I was struggling with. It really freed me up to think about the non-relationship with him outside of myself,” she said.

At a crossroads after high school, Sevana tried several jobs. She was a customer care agent for a local telecommunications provider, she was a social media coordinator, and she was a waitress. None of these jobs, however, could fill the emptiness that she felt inside her, so she dived back into music. She wrote songs, and would perform at open mic events and cosy spaces around the Corporate Area.

Five years ago she decided that the only thing she was passionate about enough to spend her life doing was making good music.

“I slowly got back to a fullness of self, not just going through the motions,” she recalled, admitting that the highest hurdle she has had to get past in her career so far was an internal one. “I had some idea that I was talented, but I kept questioning whether I was talented enough, or I was working hard enough, or whether people actually wanted to hear what I had to say.”

But being a part of the In.Digg.Nation Collective — the record label founded by Grammy-nominated artiste Protoje — has shielded her from many of the hardships that other upcoming artistes face, she said gratefully. So much so that she also managed to explore other talents that she possesses.

After releasing her debut album in 2016, Sevana dabbled in acting, when she played the role of protagonist Renee Patience the short film series Losing Patience, which aired on TVJ.

More recently, she has experimented in another role in film — directing. She was assistant director for the short film Fear, which is the second instalment in a three-part series written by Haitian Marc Bamuthi Joseph. The other two short films in the series are The Just and the Blind and About Face.

Sevana is not interested in competing with other women for a spot in the music industry. Though Nobody Man crosses over from the predominantly reggae music that she normally does, into dancehall, a space where women are often pitted against each other, she believes in maintaining positive relationships with other women.

“I think it's easy for women to be against each other because that's what society likes to see. In my personal relationships with artistes such as Lila (Ike) and Naomi (Cowan) and Jaz (Elise) and any of the other amazing women who I'm so honoured to share this time in music with, I'm very honest. I treat my relationships with women in the industry like I treat any other relationship. I don't feel the need to tear down anyone else or compete. That just doesn't make sense. The more unified the unit is, the more impactful the force will be.”

In the near future Sevana hopes to become an internationally known brand of positive music, and to be listed on mainstream shows and music festivals. On a personal level, she has toyed with the idea of furthering her studies.

“What I would most likely study if I was to return to school is human psychology,” she mused. “It's what I'm always researching and reading about. I'm fascinated by the mind, and how experiences affect the way we perceive things.”

But more importantly, she hopes to be able to put her younger brother through university, and ensure that her mother, who did her best to raise them with the little that she had, is better off economically.

She replayed the conversation she had with her father two years ago that opened the door for her to get to know him.

“When he heard that it was me, he said, 'Hello my daughter', and I said, 'I'm just calling you because I would like to know what it is like to have a relationship with you', and he broke down crying.”

 

All Woman asks Sevana quirky, rapid-fire questions to reveal her reactions in sticky situations, and her preferences — from how she likes her pizza, to which local athlete she would rob a bank with, will crack you up.
www.jamaicaobserver.com/video


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