We had the good fortune of connecting with Somalia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Somalia, why did you pursue a creative career?
Music is what has always come naturally to me. I am very passionate about it, and I’ve been able to do it with ease because I’ve always been good at performing arts. Throughout grade school, I performed, I was in the chorus, and I enjoyed it so I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a music artist.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, but I grew up in Lithonia, Georgia listening to a wide range of artists. I’ve been singing since the age of 10 and ultimately fell in love with R&B music. Growing up, I performed in plays, musicals, on dance teams, and in talent shows every year at school. Senior year of high school, I was voted “most likely to be famous” in our class. After high school, I studied music and Comparative Women Studies at Spelman College. Once I graduated from Spelman, I held my very first self-produced concert titled “The Sweet Freedom Concert.” Since then, I have released three EPs “Urban Sassy Soul,” “Journey,” and my newest project “Never Enough Time.” Inspired by greats like Brandy, Tweet, Missy Elliott, and Jill Scott, my sound blends R&B, Neosoul, Jazz, and Hip-hop. I write about a range of different topics including but not limited to love, womanhood, heartbreak, injustice, and the process of finding your purpose. I’ve gotten to where I am today, not only with the support of my community but also by continuing to create, investing in myself, and not giving up. It has not been easy but performing is something I love to do so it doesn’t feel like work. However, the business side does take work. I’ve had to strengthen my entrepreneurial skills to get to where I am today. I’ve had to think about myself as an artist holistically, meaning not just focusing on music but looking at marketing and branding, networking and connecting the dots, and building a community around my music. I am most proud of my perseverance. It is difficult to be an indie artist and not have a huge team but with the help of my support system, I’ve been able to manage and thrive thus far. Despite the challenges I experienced during the pandemic, I wasn’t deterred, but instead, I focused my energy on creating new music to produce a successful project release and was able to pivot to virtual performances. I am excited and looking forward to what is to come next.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a huge southern foodie so I would probably take them to The Busy Bee (Cafe) for my southern favorites like fried chicken, baked mac and cheese, and candied yams. Other restaurants we would visit would include Highland Tap, Big Al’s Gourmet Butter Made Burgers, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, Three Dollar Cafe, Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, and Cami Cakes for dessert. We would take a walk on the Beltline and view the artistry of the murals painted by local artists around the city. Hit up Lil Five Points and do some shopping at Rag-O-Rama. Swing over to Ponce City Market and grab some drinks at the rooftop bar. For nightlife, we would go to Spin and maybe a few of the other bars on Peters Street. For a chill vibe, Apache Cafe or Kats Cafe is where we would go to hear live music and poetry from local artists or perhaps Timeless ATL open mic at Vista Vibes. To relax and unwind, we would visit Iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family and friends – especially my mom and grandmother for pushing me to pursue my dreams, my Spelman sisters for being my cheerleaders and sounding boards, my fans and listeners who download and stream my music, my partner Brandon for his continuous support, creative collaborators I’ve worked with such as producers: Dope Norteria, Ye’Lir, 7hresh, and Seven; videographers: Seventh Division (for shooting my first video), Eboshim Platinum, and The Neighborhood Rejects; photographers: Mike Lovehall and Issa Nigerian; glam squad for making me look and feel like a star: Noelle Leisure, Slim B, and Tyra’s Loc Shop; musicians that performed live with me and on my tracks: Nate Myers, Shana B Music, Alejandro Calderon, David Chisolm, Tavis Simmons, Azair, T. Mason and Sundiata Ramin; the Atlanta music community and bands that I have performed with around the city; dancers and models that I’ve worked with in my videos; choreographer Sydney Denise; creative director Shelly Nicole of The ILL Group; publicist Taronda Gibbons of TPR Consulting; RnBae Collective for artist development; venues that have hosted my shows: The Bakery. The Movement Lab, and Gallery 992 (for supporting local indie artists and providing a platform for us to showcase our talent); sponsors: Aunt Jackie’s Curls and Coils (as the presenting sponsor for my debut concert), the Fulton County Arts and Culture, and Art on the Beltine; and all of the blogs and media outlets that have supported my projects.
Red top photos: Deijon Marquis Purple coverup photos: Essence Ransome Green dress photos: Issa Nigerian