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Sabina Ddumba Is the Ugandan-Swedish Pop Star That Music Needs

We speak with the artist about her massive single "Blow My Mind," the Ugandan influences in her music, and her love for the TRL-era pop of the late '90s.

"I'm on my way to a party," says the Ugandan-Swedish singer Sabina Ddumba as we begin our phone conversation. It's exactly what I'd imagine a young pop star would be doing on a Thursday evening. I picture her sifting through a wardrobe of fashionable, color coordinated clothes to pick out just the right outfit, and applying copious amounts of lip gloss in the mirror, like a scene from a late 90s teen drama.

Ddumba is no shallow teenager though. At 25, she's had years of career-shaping experiences in the music industry, including providing backing vocals for the likes of Katy Perry, performing at Uganda's National Theater, winning a Swedish Grammy for Best Newcomer in 2015, and having two of her singles "Effortless" and "Not Too Young" from her debut album Homeward Bound, certified platinum in Sweden.

Born in Stockholm to Ugandan parents (her father fled the country under Idi Amin's regime), the artist is now looking to make her music fully global—without leaving behind her specific Ugandan and Swedish cultural touch. She collaborated with Nigerian artist Mr Eazi on her latest single "Blow My Mind," a quintessential pop ballad reminiscent of the sugary, mainstream hits of the TRL-dominated early aughts—and further proof that the sounds produced by African artists can have undeniable global appeal. For "Blow My Mind," she channeled the "warmth" of her home country, while also managing to make the song sound nostalgic and familiar.

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