by Maliika Walker -Island Stage
Mamadee was born in the far east of Germany, behind the Berlin Wall. In 2002 she began singing background vocals (along with Tamika) for international sensation, Gentleman. Mamadee is highly regarded in Germany as one of the countries emerging solo artists. Her debut single, <strong>Who I Am</strong> was the top reggae song in Germany for many weeks after the release, according to Big Up Magazine. Her second single, <strong>Africa is Calling</strong> featuring Ky-Mani Marley, is a hit song on iTunes worldwide. <strong>Island Stage</strong> caught up with Born Free Records artist Mamadee as she was prepping for the release of her debut album, Beautiful Soul.
What inspired the amazing song, Beautiful Soul, to come to life?
‘Beautiful Soul’ is talking about souls you can trust. The souls that want the best for you and that are happy for you when you have success in life. ‘Beautiful Soul’ is talking about souls that are able to love themselves and love you the way you are. The song is also talking about souls that know everyone has to go on their individual path, with no room for jealousy, or mean and evil thoughts. There is a space for everyone’s dream in each and every fashion, in life there are a few souls that we have a stronger connection with than others. I give thanks for meeting all the beautiful souls in my lifetime.
The first time I heard your voice the name Erykah Badu came to mind. Have you heard this comparison before and what do you think about that comparison.
Thank you, to me that is a big compliment. Yes, indeed I believe Erykah Badu is a great artist, she is amazing and I listen a lot to her music as well.
You are a child of bi-racial parents. What was the most important lesson you learned while growing up?
That’s right I am. First of all I love both sides of me. I love my mom (who is white) and I love my dad (who is black). Love sees no color and children of biracial parents are in the position to learn that without really thinking about it. The connection of two different backgrounds and ethnicities or even more is a wonderful thing that will help us to understand each other better. The more we feel connected as people the more it will help remove fears and racism in our world.
Germany and racism will forever be linked because of the Holocaust. What was it like for you growing up there?
The Holocaust happened in a time I was not alive, but sure it was a subject in school. It was taught in history so Germany and the generations after will not forget about it. I grew up behind the Berlin Wall. It fell when I was 11 years old and in the beginning people in the east were happy and excited about it. However, this soon changed for many into a lot frustration and insecurity about this new freedom. At first everyone had a job then all of a sudden we were introduced to unemployment. As a child of Afro-German descent, I was used to being asked ‘Where are you from’. After 1989 the Nazi’s came out of many corners and so it became dangerous to live there if you didn’t look German. Going through racism and writing about it in my songs allowed me to join a very successful project against racism by the name of Sisters and Brothers Keepers.
The project is where Afro-German artists came together to send a sign against racism in 2001 and we were very active. Associated with the Project there is a movie “YES I AM”, which I am prominently featured, directed by Sven Halfar. The movie can be viewed here: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/4278/Yes-I-Am. The storyline covers three of us (two other Afro-German singers and myself) and it’s basically a really good documentary showing our presence in Germany as Afro-Germans.
You have toured the world as a background vocalist for recording artist Gentleman for a decade.What country became your favorite to visit and why?
I actually fell in love with many countries. On one hand there are so many beautiful countries and on the
other hand it’s the people and concerts that we were there for. The reaction of the people was so very amazing. For example we loved to play in Poland because the people there gave us so much love and feedback after shows that it was overwhelming. I fell in love with Suriname because after 10,000 people fit at the concert there were so many more waiting outside trying to get in the stadium. They were jumping over fences for our first show there on tour with Gentleman. We fell in love with Portugal because of its beauty and when we arrived there, we could hear strong airplay of our music. I could add so many other great and wonderful places but that would take another interview. What it showed me again is how powerful good music can be and how people need good music no matter where they are from. Touring with Gentleman was a great opportunity to experience all of this.
We are influenced by the people, who raised us, other family/friends, even by people who may not know us (celebrities like Oprah). Who influenced you the most to become the woman and artist you are today and why?
The older I get, I realize that my mom did by her actions and ways of thinking. The very way she went through life in terms of selflessness and that action speaks louder than words makes her my biggest Idol. She is a great influence in my life. The music she loved and played when I was young influenced me a lot as well. She played music by Dionne Warwick, Barry White, The Commodores, Abba, and many more.
Your album, Beautiful Soul, is available for download on iTunes, Amazon, etc. What do you want the world to know about your new album?
This is my debut album and my longtime dream just came true. It was a long journey and I am very happy
to have this sweet Roots album. My albums lyrics speak about hope, Africa, that you are the leader of your thoughts, faith, and many other subjects that mean a lot to me. I wrote most of the lyrics and am very happy to have worked with the people I did on this project.