Charisse C steps into her own with her stunning debut EP, Evergreen

Charisse C’s belief in her craft radiates through her discussions on the making of her debut album, Evergreen. “This project allowed me to step fully into myself,” she says. “Evergreen is me utilising all my gifts after admitting that I had gifts I wasn’t using.”

The record was released under her record label Abantu. This is a significant feat for a new musical venture, but that’s no surprise given Charisse C’s unwavering commitment to her music. The UK-based DJ and producer has steadily made her mark over the years with noticeable features on music compilations, curating mixes, and contributing to releases by Koek Sista.

With ties to the UK, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Charisse C brings a multifaceted understanding and approach to making music. Her first hope for Evergreen was that listeners would connect with her on a personal level. “I hope they get a sense of what moves me,” she says. “I hope they can feel my heart in it.”

The album’s production was a collaborative effort with Kwamzy, who Charisse C has had a strong working relationship with, and Shazmicsoul, an up-and-coming pioneer in the growth of amapiano and Afro-tech.

Evergreen amalgamates the different styles that reflect Charisse’s musical tastes. “I love music that connects worlds and sounds that aren’t supposed to make sense together,” she explains. Talking on the eclectic mix of project opener “Angisafuni” she says, “The song comes from transitions experienced in love, the move from something we don’t want to a new beginning which then leads us to the revelation that you are your own strength.”

The song also pays homage to old-school South African music, like much of Evergreen, incorporating the sonic evolution of amapiano, particularly the 3-step style that’s gaining traction locally.

While Charisse C intertwines her sound with popular genres, she is by no means just following a pattern. She notes her love for “soulful music with some bass” and this love is poured into the album. “Morning Sun”, a dreamy love song, blends pop with Afro-tech and 3-step, with Kwamzy’s production elevating the tune.

“Kwamzy is someone I have great chemistry with, and it was easy for him to understand what I wanted to do with this project,” says Charisse. “His ability to capture the essence of a distinctly South African sound is incredible.”

The most spiritual track on the album, “Ngavu Yangu” (meaning “my shield” in Shona), is an ode to Zimbabwe, her country of birth. It also stands as a salute to the ability to come out on the other side after the taxing journey of chasing a dream. The almost Solange-like song contains strong messaging that many can align with: “Leave me in peace, not in pieces” she proclaims as she encourage people to step into their own power.

By showcasing her cross-cultural heritage and strong musical diversity, Charisse C creates a mark for herself as a solo artist. Charisse C has arrived, and for her, the future is astoundingly bright.