The torch song is a trope that has been utterly owned by black women since the late 1800’s. Greats like Nina Simone and Billy Holiday made their reputations through torch songs, compositions that somehow manage the capture the entirety of human emotion, particularly loss and despair while remaining uncluttered and accessible. Save for a handful of independent artists, the sub-genre has never really caught on in Africa, understandable considering the kind of expectations we place on music made by women. But ever so often, you come across a song like Ghanaian singer Cina Soul’s “00:01” and you’re reminded why torch songs persevere in a vastly different world from the one where they became popular.
“00:01” an allusion to the magical hour, a stripped down ballad carried almost entirely by droning synth chords, an understated piano loop and an expressive bass guitar that adlibs almost as much as Cina herself. Cina Soul addresses a lover, earnestly professing her love even though she can sense it is somewhat futile to compress herself into her expectations of her. There’s a wantonness to Cina’s voice, a yearning that is best expressed when she lets herself go and really commits.
A genre chameleon, Cina Soul proves (again) that there really is no genre she can’t own.
Watch “oo:o1” here.
Edwin eats his rice and cabbages. Tweet at him@edgothboy