Elegant, confident and beguiling, Samona is a multi-talented Contemporary Gospel vocalist and singer born in Oakland Ca and raised in Sacramento Ca. Inspired by her relationship with God who has brought her through a plethora of adversities, the enigmatic singer-songwriter also uses her music as a vehicle to express her perspectives and tell stories. Her overarching ambition is completely encapsulated in the title of her latest EP – “Encouraged To Inspire”. Though drawing influences from old-school artists like Mississippi Mass Choir, Daryl Coley, John P. Kee, and Kirk Whalum, as well as Opera and Classical music, Samona is anything but old school, as she epitomizes the daring borderless creativity of the innovating new wave of musicians.
Samona is different. She is as much a jazz singer as soul and R&B crooner – singing beautifully with, against or across the beat. What she retains from the old-school aesthetics is the soulful authenticity seeping through her songs, and a voice to die for. Like a shamanic soul queen she unfolds her praise and worship narratives alongside beats built on hip-hop drums, jazzy keys and enthralling warm atmospheres. In essence, Samona is hard to resist, regardless of your personal level of faith.
Besides Samona’s stunning vocal range, the boom-clack of the drums and the relentless bass resolutely hit home throughout, adding an added thump to already impacting performances. Though the sound is smooth and fluid, to mistake this for an easy listen is to miss the point entirely.
For beneath the veneer of the smooth jazzy soulful sound, lurks the essential lessons intended to improve the human condition. Right from the start “Wings of Love” bounces buoyantly with a self-affirmation that springs from the heart of a strong, loving worshipper.
“Be Strong” is the portrait of a normal, flawed, and fallible, yet ultimately bold woman, on an adventurous and fully satisfying journey with her faith, and love of Jesus. “Be strong, courageous. Don’t be afraid, he’ll never fail you. He’ll never leave, never forsake you, exclaims Samona. Spiritual, aspirational, and wise, the singer’s fierce belief in the Lord, is powerfully sanctified on the stunning balladry groove of “Wilderness”. This is the story of an artist who has suffered losses and found her faith. She is unwilling to compromise, and unable to live by anyone else’s expectations, but those of God.
The slow and shimmering instrumental, as well as Samona’s heavenly voice and the backing vocals make “Prodigal” so addictive you’ll be playing it on repeat. Samona’s voice drips out of the speakers like honey from a spoon, capturing the effortless charisma of her sound.
On “me & YOU”, she turns up the groove and bang of the percussion, as she once again unpacks her relationship with God. “I’ve been working with you for a long time. It’s me and YOU against the world. With you it’s amazing, I’m safe and secure,” sings Samona, sprouting all of her joy.
This inspirational climate continues on “Reason I Smile”, where Samona has a backing of multi-tracked voices to keep her company in an exquisite and alluring musical setting. The EP closes on an extremely powerful note with “Heart Sings”, where Samona’s voice soars infinitely with raw soul.
This is the sound of a woman deeply committed to her relationship with the Lord. And in a roundabout way, Samona also brings spirituality, consciousness, dignity and intelligence back into the sounds of soul, R&B, Jazz and hip-hop.
“Encouraged To Inspire” is a seriously significant record. It not only plays a crucial role in the continuous sculpting of the Gospel genre, and the aspirations of faith, in the modern era, but also provides lovers of urban music with a set of delicious songs to relish.