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Ayra Starr Shines Bright on Debut Single 'Away'

Mavin Records' new teenage signee comes through with her debut EP.

West African native and the newest Mavin Records signee Ayra Starr is fresh out of the gate and already getting tongues wagging. The 19-year-old has released her self-titled debut EP, starting with head bopper "Away."

Born in Benin and raised between Cotonou and Lagos, Nigeria, Starr's sound allows her versatility and distinctive styles to take center stage. Her new five-track EP exhibits strong examples of soulfulness and a diverse musical range that usually takes some years to master.

But, what can't African women do?


The introductory "Away" is a pulsating, hip-grinding track that re-explores what typically makes up a break-up song. On the track, Starr says, "I free styled half of 'Away' at a time I was feeling down. It was like therapy. Singing the song out loud was like freeing myself from my burden. 'Away' is not just a heartbreak song, it's a song that empowers you to stand up to that thing or person that is causing you sadness."

The accompanying music video, directed by Kewa Oni and Seun Opabisi, tells a tale of being your own hero, as Starr embodies legendary feminist icons Joan of Arc and Dahomey Amazons, while surrounded by an army of dancers. We also can't help but get stuck in the vivid colour scape and Starr's entrancing eyes.

If Ayra Starr the EP is anything to go by, we expect and are excited to watch Arya Starr keep her namesake.

Check out the music video for "Away" and the Ayra Starr EP here.

Ayra Starr - Away (Official Music Video) youtu.be


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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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