meta-scriptGlobal Spin: Ayra Starr Shakes Off The Haters In This Confident Performance Of "Bloody Samaritan" | GRAMMY.com
Global Spin: Ayra Starr Shakes Off The Haters In This Confident Performance Of "Bloody Samaritan"
Ayra Starr

Photo: Maxime Ellis

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Global Spin: Ayra Starr Shakes Off The Haters In This Confident Performance Of "Bloody Samaritan"

The West African songstress turns a Los Angeles stage into an Afropop party thanks to the 2021 single off her debut album '19 & Dangerous.'

GRAMMYs/Sep 21, 2023 - 07:15 pm

Ayra Starr has a message for the haters: "Dem no fit kill my vibe." It's the empowering statement at the center of her 2021 single "Bloody Samaritan."

The song was released as the lead single off the West African songstress' debut album, 2021's 19 & Dangerous, and even earned a guest feature from Kelly Rowland on its official remix. 

In this episode of Global Spin, Starr hits the stage in Los Angeles to perform the confidently defiant Afropop track. She's backed by a full band with a hype man, who got the enthralled crowd amped for the performance by shouting, "Alright L.A., let's turn this place into an Ayra Starr party, alright?"

"Vibe killer, bloody Samaritan/ Protect my energy from your bad aura/ Na my pastor say I be my healer/ Everythin' I desire, I go receive," the Benin native sings in a sparkling pink minidress and diamond choker as a wind machine gives her long locks the Beyoncé effect.

Adding to her rising profile as one of West Africa's most promising young talents, Starr most recently collaborated with Tori Kelly on the two-time GRAMMY winner's new self-titled EP, adding her distinct Afropop flair to album cut "unbelievable." 

Press play on the video above to watch Ayra Starr's performance of "Bloody Samaritan," and check GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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Global Spin: Lau Noah Acknowledges Her Weaknesses In This Acoustic Performance Of "Lesser Men Would Call It Love"
Lau Noah

Photo: Courtesy of Lau Noah

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Global Spin: Lau Noah Acknowledges Her Weaknesses In This Acoustic Performance Of "Lesser Men Would Call It Love"

Catalan songstress Lau Noah performs a stripped-down rendition of "Lesser Men Would Call It Love," an introspective B-side from her new collaborative album, 'A Dos.'

GRAMMYs/Feb 29, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Catalan singer Lau Noah makes it clear she's not interested in love. It's an inevitable failure — a place "where gods live" where "no man can linger," she asserts in "Lesser Men Would Call It Love." Because no matter how much she tries to resist, she knows she's just a bird without wings.

Noah performs an acoustic version of the track in this episode of Global Spin, accompanied by guitarists Evan Tyor and Adam Neely; Nickel Creek's Chris Thile features on the original recording.

"With you, it's simple then/ Why we recognize each other/ Wounds that look alike, they tend/ To reflect one another," Noah explains in the song's second verse. "So, don't you leave your home for me."

"Lesser Men Would Call It Love" is a track from Noah's collaborative album, A Dos, which she independently released on January 12.

"'A Dos' is the bridge between song and symphony — the place where counterpoint complexity fits into the ancestral structure of a simple song. And I have some of the best storytellers of our time helping me carry out this endeavor," she explained in a press statement.

Aside from Thile, the project also sees appearances from Jacob Collier, Gaby Moreno, and more.

Press play on the video above to hear Lau Noah's acoustic rendition of "Lesser Men Would Call It Love," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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Global Spin: Baloji Premieres Political Anthem "Le Nègre Blanc" At UNESCO's La Semaine du Son Celebration
Baloji

Photo: Courtesy of Baloji

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Global Spin: Baloji Premieres Political Anthem "Le Nègre Blanc" At UNESCO's La Semaine du Son Celebration

Accompanied by an orchestra, Congolese-Belgian rapper Baloji delivers a live performance of "Le Nègre Blanc," a powerful track about the plight of Black immigrants around the world.

GRAMMYs/Feb 27, 2024 - 06:01 pm

As an immigrant to Belgium, Congolese rapper Baloji often finds himself tied between European and African cultures — "Afropean," as he describes in his newest track, "Le Nègre Blanc," or "White Negro" in English.

"I'm from the hyphen generation/ For Belgo-Congolese, Franco-Senegalese," he recounts in his native French. "I speak with my white voice/ But Bantu doesn't pronounce the R's/ We speak like little Negroes in a foreign language/ White is universal."

In this episode of Global Spin, Baloji performs the track accompanied by an orchestra at this year's UNESCO La Semaine du Son, an annual celebration of music that raises awareness about "the importance of the quality of our sound environment."

"Le Nègre Blanc'' will be featured on Baloji's upcoming album, due later this year. The project will accompany his recent film, Omen, a drama about a Congolese man who returns to his home country after his mother disowns him. The movie has received recognition from the Cannes Film Festival, Durban International Film Festival, and more.

Beyond television and music, Baloji has also worked as an artist director and costume designer.

Press play on the video above to watch Baloji's impactful performance of "Le Nègre Blanc," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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Global Spin: Soweto Gospel Choir & Groove Terminator Join For A Feel-Good Performance Of "Everybody's Free"
Soweto Gospel Choir & Groove Terminator

Photo: Courtesy of Soweto Gospel Choir & Groove Terminator

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Global Spin: Soweto Gospel Choir & Groove Terminator Join For A Feel-Good Performance Of "Everybody's Free"

s South African musical collective Soweto Gospel Choir and Australian DJ Groove Terminator unite to spread the 'History of House' around the globe, they share a magnetic performance of a track from the forthcoming album, "Everybody's Free."

GRAMMYs/Feb 15, 2024 - 06:10 pm

For nearly two decades, South African worship group Soweto Gospel Choir has been bringing their joyous music and message to audiences across the globe. Now, they are teaming up with Simon Lewicki — aka Groove Terminator, the "Superstar DJ" from Down Under — to spread the culture of house music.

"Everybody's free to feel good," Soweto Gospel Choir cheers in the outro of "Everybody's Free," a track from their joint album with Groove Terminator, History of House. The project aims to culturally and musically reimagine the genre's classic hits, with Soweto Gospel Choir performing in their native Zulu.

GRAMMY Award-winning producer Dennis White (Latroit) produced the album. The original track, "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)," was written in English and performed by Zimbabwean electronic performer Rozalla in 1991.

"The choir performing in Zulu was not the original idea," White revealed in a press statement. "We sent English lyric sheets to the choir, who decided amongst themselves to record the songs in Zulu ... Simon and I realized at that moment that this project has a soul of its own, and our job is to pay close attention to what it's telling us it wants to be."

Last year, the Soweto Gospel Choir and Groove Terminator brought the History of House in tour form; the album of the same name will arrive in spring 2024 via Music is Fun/House of Latroit/Gallo Records.

Press play on the video above to watch Soweto Gospel Group & Groove Terminator's mesmerizing rendition of "Everybody's Free," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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Ayra Starr's "Rush" To The Top: The Afrobeats Singer On Numerology, The Male Gaze & The Power Of Kelly Rowland
Ayra Starr

Photo: LEX ASH

interview

Ayra Starr's "Rush" To The Top: The Afrobeats Singer On Numerology, The Male Gaze & The Power Of Kelly Rowland

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Ayra Starr is among the inaugural nominees for the Best African Music Performance category for her record-breaking single "Rush." The singer discusses her headlining tour, working with her idols and making it to Music's Biggest Night.

GRAMMYs/Jan 30, 2024 - 02:17 pm

Ayra Starr's rise to prominence in the realm of Afrobeats is a testament to her talent for seamlessly fusing "Gen-Z princess" flair with the wisdom of an old soul. From her inaugural 2021 EP and her debut album, 19 & Dangerous, to her presence at Music's Biggest Night, Starr has steadfastly embodied her artistic vision and accumulated experiences.

In the latter part of 2023, Starr embarked on her first headline tour, enchanting audiences with her sonorous voice and empowering blend of Afropop, R&B, and alté — skillfully interwoven with the vibrant sounds of her diverse roots. This international showcase further solidified her position as a dynamic force in the music industry.

"I'm constantly trying, constantly bettering myself, to show people I didn't come perfect," Starr tells GRAMMY.com. "I do have down and negative times where I'm in my head, I'm tired, or I'm not motivated. So, in a way, it's sort of a selfish thing where I make those songs for myself." 

This unwavering dedication to craft has transformed Starr into a formidable and industrious artist whose music resonates globally. Starr's pursuit of excellence is driven by a sense of artistic selfishness that compels her to continually evolve and elevate her musical prowess.

Born in Cotonou, Benin, Starr achieved monumental success with her single "Rush," released in 2022 as part of the deluxe version of 19 & Dangerous. The track became the most streamed solo song by a Nigerian female artist on Spotify and propelled her to become the youngest African female artist to surpass 100 million views on a single YouTube video. The Nigerian singer/songwriter's remarkable talent even captured the attention of former President Barack Obama, who included "Rush" in his annual year-end playlist in 2022.

The record-breaking track is nominated for the inaugural Best African Music Performance category at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Arya Starr spoke to GRAMMY.com about family, touring Europe and how her relationship with numbers is her way  of documenting her growth.

This conversation has been edited for clarity.

How are you recovering after your first headline tour? 

Well, there's no recovery for me anytime soon. 

After the world tour, my schedule is still packed with other stuff to do. I'm enjoying it to be honest. I had a two-day break and I could sit in one place. I'm just very used to the chaos of it all. I'm a proper Lagos babe, so I'm always buzzing for what's next.

Good thing you mentioned Lagos. Your parents bounced around places; from being born in Benin to moving to Abuja and then finally settling in Lagos, how have those migrations have influenced your sound?

I feel like living in different places has really shaped my mind. I really know how to adapt to places, people as well as situations. 

And you can hear that in the music. I know how to try and do different things. I know how to put different cultures and different worlds into what I'm doing. In Stability for instance, you can hear the French aspect of my life. I grew up listening to [Congolese singer and composer] Awilo and I sampled that. I mixed that with Lagos life — proper Afrobeats vibes. 

Your career has featured a pattern of numbers. I read that you like the number 5, your debut album was titled 19 & Dangerous, and your tour was called 21. Why have numbers become a prominent part of your career?

To be honest, it comes very naturally to me. I don't know what it is yet. I've not tapped into that aspect of my life. I think it might make sense in the third album where I'll be able to answer this question. 

But I just like numbers. Right now, my favorite number is eight. I say eight all the time. I don't even know why eight is just my number now. And with 19 & Dangerous and the tour called 21, it's just me relating everything to my age and where I am currently in life. It's just showing people that [what's happening in my life] is a very present movement and activity. I want people to know that, yeah, I did that when I was 19

Does that mean it's sort of a brag?

It's less of me showing off and bragging and more about me being present. There were a lot of people that were 19 at that time. There were a lot of people that were 20, or 29 but could relate to what I was saying. With 21 now, I want to associate it with a feeling and less of a number. 

So it's just you documenting your growth as an artist?

Exactly! I'm stealing that by the way. [Laughing] 

You've toured and opened for several artists like Koffee in the past, but this is your first headline tour. How did that feel?

Amazing. I’ve been touring for a while, but doing my own [tour] was a different feeling. Like people bought tickets to see me. I'm the reason they're there. 

There's no time to mess up. It's a different type of pressure. At a certain point, during the Europe tour, I was just like, I’m so relaxed because it's my stage, they're here to see me you know. If I fall down, it's all part of the vibe. It's an experience for them. They're gonna talk about it years from now. 

Luckily that wouldn't happen… or did it?

Ah, it happened already but I'm over it. But it wasn't during this tour. I just got up immediately. I couldn't let that weigh me down. 

And would you say that's the theme of your life? Falling and getting back up?

Definitely, I'm not afraid to be seen trying, and that's like my whole M.O. because I'm not perfect, and I want that to inspire people. 

I didn't know how to do riffs and runs last year; I had to learn it. I didn't know how to learn choreography in one day, but now I'm doing that. I'm constantly trying, constantly bettering myself, to show people I didn't come perfect. I didn't come knowing any of this, and I had to learn along the way. 

This is me documenting. When I say my age, I want people to be aware that I didn't know anything. I'm just figuring this out. 

What memorable moments do you have from touring?

Singing "Rush," the acoustic version, with my fans. I met this fan that was pregnant and she sent her baby scan and she wanted to let me know she's naming her baby Ayra. I loved it so much, it made me so happy. 

That and just spending time with my team and my friends and being on stage. Every minute of being on stage is very memorable. 

Did you face any challenges while touring and how did you deal with them? 

I'm human at the end of the day, and you get tired, overwhelmed, sick. I had the flu every two business days. I lost my voice. There are a lot of challenges on the road, but we can't let that stop us. 

The thing about touring is that the world isn't stopping for me. I still have my family, my younger sister that wants to talk to me every day, I still have my younger brother. I have friends to keep up with. I have to be a human being outside of this. It's not necessarily a challenge; it's just something I'm aware of, and sometimes it can be hard. 

Is your family happy and proud of you? 

My younger brother makes music with me, so he's literally my partner. I'm also basically on the road with my family. I was with my mum in Paris. I try my best for them to experience it too. 

When I'm not with them, I just feel so guilty. I want my people to feel what I'm feeling; I want them to see the countries too because we all started together. I want them to experience the exact same thing I'm experiencing. I try to spend as much time with them as possible. 

My mum knows every lyric to every song. We were having a conversation, and she was referencing "Ase." I was like "OMG, mummy please, please!" So it's an everyday thing; they're in my life. They're very proud of me, but they're also kinda used to it as well. I feel like everybody expected it to happen. 

You're known for your uplifting and empowering lyrics, but have you found yourself in a situation where you're feeling down and you need a little bit of Ayra? 

Definitely. I do have down and negative times where I'm in my head, I'm tired, or I'm not motivated. So, in a way, it's sort of a selfish thing where I make those songs for myself. I have songs that I make for the future. Music is therapy for me. 

You first went into modeling and then finding music. How proud would little Ayra be of you right now, and how much of all what she experienced made you who you are today? 

She'd definitely be proud, but even right now, when I look back, I'm so proud of little Ayra too. It's because of her that I'm here now. It's because of that 16-year-old girl that didn't give up and kept going. 

I wanted to do modeling because everyone told me I couldn't do it, like I'm not tall enough, and I told them, "watch me." And I ended up doing it. 

How did music come into the fold from modeling? 

I used to do cover [songs] on Instagram. My mum and her friends used to force me to do covers. I uploaded one cover on Instagram —  I didn't even like the video. But something just kept telling me to post it and I did. Not up to 6 hours later, [Marvin Records CEO] Don Jazzy reached out. Three days later, he signed me. 

Your fashion choices are  constantly under scrutiny by fans, particularly by men. Did being constantly bludgeoned with such remarks regarding the male gaze affect you in any way? 

I've always had a mind of my own. Growing up in different places, in different cultures, has shaped my mind. And in spite of all these influences, I'm still myself. I went to a very religious school. I wrote "Asé" when I was 15 — I had no business writing that song. So that gives you a glimpse of the kind of mindset I had at a young age. 

And I still have now. I'm not really bothered about the male, female gaze, or anybody's gaze for that matter, except my own. I'm an artist to the core, and I want my style, my hair, my music, to represent how I feel. I don't really care about aesthetics, it's more about how I feel. 

What was the energy like before and after finding out about your GRAMMY nomination?

I was alone in my hotel room. I remember just speaking to God, asking him to let me be nominated. If I was nominated, I'd be so grateful because I'd know that all my hard work was not in vain. 

This nomination came at one of my low days. I was unmotivated, doubting myself. It was cold, and I was just tired. I was like, I just want rice and stew, abeg. I'm just tired, abeg [meaning please]. Next thing I know, I started getting calls. Tyla sent me a message. So even before I found out, people had started messaging and congratulating me. After I checked, I just knelt down and thanked God. 

Meeting people like David Guetta and Kelly Rowland, both of whom you idolize, must have been an incredible experience. Which encounter was the most memorable for you? 

Everything has been memorable — meeting Kelly, David. Like the Nigerian girl in me wanted to call him Mr. David, but he was like "no Ayra" and I was like "no sir but…." [Laughs.] All these people, they're human beings, and we forget that sometimes. They're regular humans with their lives, making music and doing what they love. 

David was an amazing person. He was so free. After every lyric I recorded, he'd whisk me up in the air. He was so hyped and happy. Then Kelly was like the most amazing human being. I'm so blessed to know her. She is an inspiration to me and everything to me. Even before she recorded the verse, I'd loved her for a long time. 

I don't know how she does it, whenever I'm feeling low or down, she just knows. She'll send me a random message or voice memo telling me to keep going. She's the most amazing human being; I love her so much. She's like my big aunty, she's my friend. She's a friend. 

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List