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Girls scream for joy and more and more men show their fascination freely whenever she appears on stage. She is has an aura of elegance, charm and loveliness. Above all, she sings with a voice that captivates her audience. Everyone in concert swings to the melody of her music. Her name is Zoe. AFRITOPIC met her in Hamburg and had a relaxed chat with her.

 

Afritopic: How was it for you growing up in Germany?

Zoe: Born to a Liberian Father and German mother in Liberia, I was brought to a small town in Bavaria called Penzberg as a baby, where I went to school. I was raised within the family environment of my mother. In the elementary school, I was the only child of African descent. I was not conscious of my color and did not feel different to other children until I moved on to the secondary school. It was then I started noticing the way people eyed me or passed comments about my looks. I was uncomfortable with the situation in the beginning and did not like it when people referred to my looks as exotic.

I developed interest in music at an early age and started taking lessons in classic piano. At the same time, I was aware of the importance of good education and wanted to complete my Abitur (High School Certificate). After my Abitur, I decided to study music including Jazz, though I was not sure whether to go for a career as a musician. However, I knew that good education would also form a solid foundation for success in the music field.

 

Afritopic: When did you decide to make music your profession?

Zoe: I was learning and practicing but could not decide whether to focus only on music and make it my profession. So, I decided to wait for a sign that would help me to decide. With time I was getting in contact with musicians and had opportunities to sing on stage with bands. I was receiving complements for my talent and by the age of 21, I was offered recording contract. I perceived the contract as the sign I had been waiting for. From then on, I focused on music and started writing my own lyrics. I was writing and composing. I wanted to do my own music but the producers were against it, arguing that they were better experienced and knew which type of music would sell. They tried to mold me to do their taste of music. I was not very satisfied but gathered experience. I later changed to a producer that was ready to work with me and produce my own type of music. Before long, I had my first hit single.  continue>

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Zoe
 

Afritopic: Which type of music inspires you?

Zoe: I love Reggae music and its influence on my music is vivid. I traveled to Jamaica the first time to meet music artists and since then I have been there a couple of times and made good contacts. I like it in Jamaica. Naturally, there are a lot of people that look like me and I have the feeling that a lot more are fond of me and my music. Reggae music is rich. The rhythm is lively. I like lively rhythms but I also like to write lyrics that deal with and express sadness. Sadness is part of life. It is easier to talk about and express happiness but difficult to express sadness. There are a lot of lyrics about happiness. But sadness is the other side of happiness and expressing sadness with beautiful lyrics could be intensely amazing. There are even more lyrics about love. However, love generally entails not only pleasing emotional feelings but also, physical sex, opinions, misunderstandings, fear, compromise and so on. A sad song could be motionally helpful.

 
 

Afritopic: How do you overcome difficulties and handle mistakes?

Zoe: I have made a lot of mistakes on my career path. I have learned and would continue to learn from my mistakes in order to improve. I am religious in the sense that I believe in God. I believe in the Almighty. I am not confined to a religion. I only believe in God; called Jah in Jamaica or Allah in the Arab world.

I have my dreams like everyone. Usually, after writing a couple of songs to express my state of mind or my feelings in the “space” I am virtually in, I get back to reality. “You are in music business. You have your dreams and goals. Get back on stage and do your thing”, I would tell myself.

Afritopic: What role do your family and friends play in your life?

Zoe: I am lucky to have a loving family. My family and loved ones as well as my friends are very important to me. They support me in all my endeavors and shower me with love. Their love is a big support for me. I am of the opinion that everyone needs love. They are there when I need them. continue>

 
 

 

 

Afritopic: Is financial success very important to you?

Zoe: It would be false for me to say that all I need is the music and financial success is not very important. I am happy to be able to make a living from my music. We all have our bills to pay; rent, electric, travel, clothing, feeding and so on. I think that musicians that say they do not need financial success are not telling the truth. The more successful I am financially and as a music artist, the better for me and my friends. I am always ready to share my success in every form with people close to me.

 

Afritopic: How do you cope with the media?

Zoe: I deal with the media in a very simple way. I am open about myself. I have nothing to hide. If I tell the truth about myself, the media would find nothing to use against me. My strength in terms of the media is my openness and my truthfulness.

 

Afritopic: Do you make the time to go through your fan mails?

Zoe: I receive a lot of fan mails. It is really flattering to read beautiful compliments from people who love my music and see me as a role model. There are also mails from fans who want to marry me. Of course, these mails boost my ego. I feel that a lot of people, especially young girls could relate to me. Compared to mega stars like Beyonce, I am not very far to reach. In my shows I seek contacts to the audience and discuss with some members of the audience after my shows.

 

Afritopic: When do you feel that your action reflects the African part of you?

Zoe: In Germany, you know you are different when you see people reacting to you differently. I very concious of this reaction while growing up in Bavarian. As a grown-up, the African side of me is expressed in my being extremely careful in dealing with people or taking a decision. I believe this behavior comes from the character of the Liberian tribe I come from (my father’s origin). Liberia was under the protectorate of the US for a long time after the slave trade. The political issues during this era made most tribes in Liberia very skeptical and cautious in dealing with other people. continue>

 
 
 
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Afritopic: Which part of your music compositions is very important to you; the lyric or rhythm?

Zoe: I think there is one very important part you have not mentioned; the melody. The melody is very important to me. When I compose I try to create a harmonious melody.

 

 

Afritopic: Do you feel that you have attained the peak of your career?

Zoe: No, no! In fact this is just the beginning. I am working hard on new album now and many more would follow.

Afritopic: What advice would you give young ones/teens who aspire to be music artists?

Zoe: Get education! Write! Do not sell your ass too cheap!

End. Afritopic 2005

 
Info

Zoe (pronounced So-i) has proven her class, talent and professionalism as a music artist through her fantastic solo performances, vocal duets with renowned artists and top chart hits including the following:

Love can change so much (2001)

Uptown Top Ranking (Remake)

Could It Be You -duett with Ky-Mani Marley

Zoeciety (2003 Debut album)

Exile African (2004 Album, including the chart busters Rock Steady, Another Day amongst others)
 
 
 

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