Cameroonian-Jamaican British musician Konyikeharrives with the lease of her debut single, the mesmerizing "Sorrow"

Cameroonian-Jamaican British musician Konyikeharrives with the lease of her debut single, the mesmerizing "Sorrow"

Radiating a quiet power often sought after, Konyikeh harnesses her musical prowess for what is an astounding debut. Proficient at violin, piano and voice she has an anchoring of musical knowledge that allows her the freedom to bare her soul.

The accompanying visual, directed by Kemi Anna Adeeko, is set in a country home with a family readying themselves for a group picture. Themes of personal history and familial troubles from the track are reflected in Kemi’s choice of sonorous setting and scene.

Produced by British producers, Charlie J Perry and Paya, "Sorrow" has a long personal history for Konyikeh, written back when she was 13 or 14 on a long walk home from school; “I was very rebellious and religion wasn’t a thing to me even then, I was calling myself an atheist – but my parents weren’t religious either, but my mum would go to church and pray for me still.” The soft swaying song with its flamenco guitar, she says, was born out of a frustration about not knowing what she could sing about.

Born in London and raised in Essex, Konyikeh makes soulful music with striking lyrics and, it can’t be stressed enough, that voice. You might recognize her distinctive vocals from her evocative moment on-stage at the BRITs in 2022, performing alongside Dave, as the opening soloist, during his astonishing rendition of "In The Fire" – but now, the 23-year-old is getting ready to step into her own light. As she readies herself to launch her first single, she’s quick to point out: “It’s been a long time coming; it’s been a journey to get here.”

While her family were not musicians themselves, Konyikeh grew up with music always being played in the house. She recalls her parents taking her to see classical music at the BBC Proms, and hearing musical theatre, Jennifer Hudson’s "Pocketbook", her mom's Destiny’s Child CDs, opera; “It was all to really expand my palate.” she explains. Of Cameroonian and Jamaican heritage, Konyikeh started to play the violin aged seven, latterly alongside classical singing and piano. She remembers long car journeys with her mom going to Woodbridge, where the violin shop was, listening to the Kenyan Boys Choir on CD. “It was beautiful,” she recalls, “It exposed me to traditional African music, harmonies and stuff like that.”

Konyikeh became a music scholar at a prestigious school in West London, then on Saturdays she would go to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where, for ten years, she would play violin, piano, perform in the orchestra and chamber choir, alongside learning music theory. In these spaces, she was told to play with emotion, and to draw out her most intense feelings when performing: it’s something which Konyikeh seems to have channeled into her own work one decade later. Still, she felt uneasy within her identity, she explains: “Going to a very white girls’ school, it was only later I really connected with my heritage.”

The feeling of displacement that Konyikeh was dealing with during much of her time growing up is palpable in her songwriting; there was how she felt at school and it was exacerbated in turn by the classical music world where she was very cognizant of the racial and financial barriers to entry and “felt like an alien”. This was all alongside a difficult period in her home life. Although she moved for sixth form and was finally among at least some Black peers, her notions of self, worth, love and beauty had already been shaped: now, she says, she is still in the process of unlearning it all, building and rebuilding her confidence.

Konyikeh is part of Jorja Smith's FAMM management company and label, which independently releases music from award-winning recording artist Jorja Smith, Maverick Sabre, ENNY, andMychelle. Stream/watch "Sorrow" below, a sublime offering from a vital new voice in music.

Privacy Policy Cookie Policy Terms and Conditions