Feature

This is Sevana: Jamaican reggae-soul darling paving a road for her sound across the globe

At first glance Sevana could be nothing more than another rising R&B face in a sea of hopefuls – but look a little closer and you’ll find she doesn’t sing R&B at all, but rather a forward-thinking reggae breed, infused in soul influence and fleshed out by her Jamaican roots. She’s feisty and frivolous in equal measure – from her loud and proud Diana Ross inspired hairdo in the sultry video for “Mango”, to the elegantly subdued stance in her latest visual “Set Me On Fire”.

While she’s only really be treading the global circuit since the release of her 2019 dancehall anthem “Nobody Man”, Anna-Sharé Blake (whose stage moniker Sevana was lifted from Savannah-La-Mar, her coastal hometown), really found her feet in music when her girl group SLR won Jamaica’s Digicel Rising Stars competition 2008.

Cut to 2016 and her debut solo EP hit the airwaves, followed by a smash tour around Europe. Two years later and her infectious anthem “Sometime Love” earned her healthy radio play across Jamaican and UK charts alike. Then in early 2019 “Nobody Man” came along and a slew of European festival slots (from Boomtown (UK), and Reggae Geel (Germany), to Rototom splash in Spain) shoved her into a pretty position in the music scene at large. 

While 2020 was a quiet one, she wrapped it up with renewed vigour with the release of Be Somebody – her most personal EP to date, packed full of realisation on the metamorphosis of self. It’s replete in percussive rhythm, sweeping strings and piano lines, knife-sharp verses and tropical groove. But while she straddles genre with grace and progressive sass, her real power lies behind her rich, belting vocals.

She’s as slick and polished as they come, but for an insight into Sevana as she really is, her recent NPR Tiny Desk concert – shot in a jungle-esque room in Kingston Creative Hub – peels back the glossy layers to reveal a nervous, humble and effervescently authentic personality. Between songs she fidgets and grins, flanked by her six-piece band. Her rich Jamaican accent fills out the edges of the tracks she gives her heritage entirely over to – “Blessed” and “Mango” – dropping freestyle bars and crooning verses with effusive confidence. 

Sevana’s out there bringing a whole new life to a genre we all thought had seen its glory days, and she’s doing with an authenticity which is as inspiring as it is formidable.