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Interview with a Swedish-Gambian singer: Aminatah is in love with her fatherland, The Gambia!
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Interview with a Swedish-Gambian singer: Aminatah is in love with her fatherland, The Gambia!

Aminatah Baldeh is a Swedish singer with a Gambian father. She was recently in the country to visit her family and also to promote her music.  Read our exclusive interview with the 28-year-old.

What’s On-Gambia: Tell us a briefly about yourself and your Gambian family?

Aminatah: Alright, I was born and raised in Sweden, but my father is from Bakau Newtown.I have sisters and brothers and several cousins both in Sweden and in The Gambia.

I started visiting The Gambia when I was a child. I have a great passion for the culture and have for a long time looked for ways to be able to spend more time there and combine work between Sweden and there.

Do you speak any of the local languages?

I don't, but I'm learning Wolof right now. People often tell me I should learn Fula first, but I think Wolof is easier and I always have people around me who speak it.

I know enough Wolof to carry a short conversation.  (Laughs) a very short one. When it comes to Fula, I barely know anyone who speaks it.

Aminatah

Who do you blame for your inability to speak a Gambian language?

Most of the time growing up I was living with only my mother. There wasn’t really any Gambians around in my neighborhood, so therefor it was hard to learn. We even tried to find a Wolof teacher.

How did you get into music?

I loved singing when I was a child. I guess I kind of stuck with it. I went to music school and tried to record and perform as much as possible.

Luckily, I ran into a lot of talented people along the way who could help me learn.

Who are these talented people you met?

Amongst many, I'd probably name my former teachers: Aron Phiri, Carol Rogers, Damon Frost, and Henry Brewer. I've also been in situations where I got to exchange words with musicians such as Quincy Jones, Redman, Andre 3000 and Mario to name a few. My life has been around music.

Are you close to Swedish-Gambian artists like Adam Tensta, Eboi, Mary Ndiaye, Seinabou Sey and Awa Manneh?

I did work before with Adam Tensta and Eboi, years ago. I would in no way say I’m close to the women you mentioned. But I've been in the same market as them and seen them around in the industry for a long time. I'm in total admiration of Seinabou Sey’s latest work, we should be proud of her!

You were recently in The Gambia, what was your mission?

I originally came for a family vacation and some minor music work.

And what happened?

I stayed for almost 7 months to record an album, a music video and begin the Gambian launch of my music career.

You did a combination with T Smallz, how did that come about?

We met through Dj Lil Sisquo. He told me he knew someone that I had to work with. I instantly liked T Smallz, he's very talented and we quickly became good friends.

We did the song Paw Paw together and are saving some unreleased materials we did together for later this year. He will be appearing on my album.

Aminatah

Your recent song, Don't Forget Me is about love, do you draw from personal experience when you're writing?

I always write from own experience or from a friends experience. It's easier to connect with the words and easier for other people to understand and relate.

Did you find love in The Gambia during your seven-month stay?

I met someone special. But I'm trying not to engage too much in a relationship right now. It’s important to keep my focus on the music.

I think I'd be ready for a commitment in a year or two, but who knows, anything can happen. So I'm still single!

So the ‘special guy' have to wait for a year or two?

I guess we will have to wait and see if he is the "special guy" for me. I like to keep it at a friendship level for now.

What's your opinion about the Gambian music industry?

It is still in need of development. Things need to be more organized.

When are you dropping your debut album?

We haven't set a final release date but it's towards the end of the year.

Who are 'we'?

Me, my manager, my consultants and everyone involved in the business- and creative side of the release.

When are you returning to The Gambia?

If everything goes the way I planned, September or October I'll be back.

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