This week we profile a personality whose star has been soaring in a year that has provided so many ups and downs for many people. UK based Afro pop artist, Valee Music has been rocking airwaves with her latest song Sondela featuring Charlie Kay.
Our bubbly Person of the Week has been steadily making her mark on the big stage and recently appeared on the hit Beyoncé film Black Is King which is based on The Lion King:The Gift soundtrack album by the American superstar.
Born Valerie Sibanda in Bulawayo, the London based artist has been serenading music lovers with her remarkable vocals, catchy songs and impressive live performances. Her artistry has seen her being featured across multiple media platforms and stages including interviews on BBC Africa, Kenya News and dazzling audiences with an explosive performance at Zimfest, among others.
Valee carries a unique sound that blends various genres to present an alluring Afropop sound that has resonated well with fans and the wider creative spectrum. Her success over the past 3 years in which she has pursued her lifelong passion professionally has not quenched Valee’s desire to reach new heights.
“I feel like when music is your passion there’s always a new goal to set and achieve. I believe that it’s more about the journey more than anything. I get to share my sounds and music with the world – which to me is a beautiful thing. I’m a creative and so this is a marathon not a sprint. I want to continue taking my day ones on a journey and really excite new fans with what I have to offer,” she says.
Earlier this year Valee released the smash hit Watora Moyo and left her followers in a frenzied anticipation for her upcoming EP. The suspense was further deepened with the recent release of the emotive track Sondela which features soft soulful vocals laced over a smooth beat which sets the tone of the song meaning.
“I love Watora Moyo; I feel like it’s been our lockdown Anthem! Every time I feel like, ‘right, we’ve had a great run’, a new radio station, TV or blogger reaches out to say I love your new song! It’s definitely the perfect lead to my EP,” she said. Valee was approached by the dynamic duo of Inkredible Muzik to work on Sondela with star producer Charlie Kay on arrangement and production whist O_25 supported on song writing. The result of that collaboration was the track which cast the songstress in a different light in comparison to her usual persona.
“I was a bit reluctant because Sondela shows a more vulnerable side to me. Most of my music speaks from an angle of queen ship and girl power but this one exposed me a bit. I had to refer to a time of my life where I’ve been hurt before; and the impact that pain has not only on a person but a woman. Like how can I trust again when I’ve been hurt before?” said Valee.
“But then, the song is healing in itself, telling us to Sondela which basically means ‘Come Closer’ in Ndebele. The reception has been amazing! Especially in South Africa which is where we’ve had our first airplay for the record. I got to show off my vocals and get real emotional, so I’m super grateful,” she added.
Whilst the buzz is still on Sondela it is easy to almost understate and overlook the significant endorsement of Valee’s abilities by her Black Is King appearance. Beyoncé is a megastar synonymous with legendary productions and the critically acclaimed Disney masterpiece was no different.
Valee was cast on Black Is King after being approached by one of the agents working with Beyoncé’s team. She was informed they loved her look and wanted to feature her in a massive project for an International Artist. The whole process was done under strict confidentiality and it was not until Valee was on set that she discovered it was for none other than Beyoncé herself.
“It was all very hush-hush – it wasn’t until I was on set that I knew this was a Queen Bey Project! The experience was amazing in the sense that Beyoncé’s The Gift is literally the GIFT that keeps on giving. Just seeing my name on the credits for Black Is King, really filled me with emotions and made me feel so humble and so included; as a black African woman who is blazing her own trail in the international sphere. I also felt that this was a moment for any young Zimbabwean who has dreams of being in the Entertainment space that we are included and that absolutely anything is possible.’’
Although 2020 has undoubtedly been a huge year for Valee, the singer ties most of her career highlights to the small moments that contribute to her bigger creative scope and career. She cites being a named feature on Black Is King as one of her big career moments as well as being on New York City radio station WBLS. The production and creative process behind her EP is also an experience she cherishes.
“Renting out an apartment in the middle of nowhere to record my EP with Inkredible Muzik was a truly magical experience! Being in rooms with legends or people I have admired in my career was surreal. Being on the WBLS this year really made me realize how my music is so versatile and appeals to people world over. I was also their first Zimbabwean guest, so I’m always happy to wave the flag high. Apart from the Black Is King appearance I’m also so proud of Watora Moyo. It’s like watching your baby learn how to walk and blaze her trail and I couldn’t be more proud,” she said, flashing her trademark smile.
The music industry is a demanding lane in any part of the world and this has been further compounded by the effects of the pandemic. Valee keeps ticking in her career by remembering the pure joy and freedom that is found in music.
“My passion for music overrides everything else. I’m in this game because I’ve wanted to be a musician since I was a child. It’s not an easy journey, most days are good and on bad days I throw myself a little pity party. But it doesn’t last too long because I usually snap right out of it! Lol.”
“I’m quite optimistic and I know every single job and career in this world has its challenges. So I look at it this way; ‘what would I rather do every day’? This is my dream; I know that God has my back and I wouldn’t be here or have achieved anything without him!” she said.
The highlights and defining moments have been coming thick and fast for Valee and one wonders what the bubbly songstress gets up to when she takes a break from her packed schedule.
“I don’t know if this is a hidden talent but I’m an excellent cook! I also enjoy travelling very much and I love languages – I often sing in different languages in my songs. The lockdown has also allowed me the opportunity to take it easy with my EP and re-evaluate everything. The songs, the title and the way the music flows. When the time is right I will release the music but for now we will rock to Sondela & Watora Moyo.”
Valee’s star has been shining bright and wherever her music has reached, the Zimbabwean flag has been lifted high. Music lovers can only expect bigger things to follow from the singer as we await to see what is in the pipeline for Valee Music.
“I just want people to get to know me through my music. I plan to be a lot more consistent with my releases. And by the time we can safely do events; I hope to book more shows and show fans who’s really behind the records. For now, my goal is to create, entertain and inspire!’’
Valee’s music is available on all digital platforms including Boomplay.You can keep up with what Valee is up to on her social media platforms: