The sensational Setche talks the love and soul of her music!
What kind of love goes into your music?
Love for humanity. Love for people and a purpose bigger than myself. As I experience the joy of living, I want to celebrate that! As I experience the sorrows of living, I want to help heal that. As I experience the challenges of living, I want to conquer or mitigate those. So the love that goes into my music is my love for helping people (including myself) feel joy, love, experience healing & authenticity, conquer challenges both individually and collectively.
What do you think the soul of your music is?
The soul of my music is its authenticity and multicultural feel. I love so many different cultures and musical genres and most of my music reflects that appreciation of different cultures.
Talk to us about your latest single Black Country Girl and what you want fans to take from the song?
I wrote Black Country Girl eight years ago when I lived in Mississippi and worked at Caterpillar as an engineer. Though I was a phenomenal songwriter who also fell in love with country music and culture, I thought I couldn’t be black and country or an engineer and a musician. But my friend, Chamara, encouraged me to embrace the country girl and singer in me. So I did, and the journey began. Interviewed many people who called themselves country, asking them what made them country. Being an engineer I had to turn that into hard numbers for it to sink in. My analysis revealed that I was indeed 87.39% country, thus the song was born - to tell the story!
The music video also chronicles a synopsis of the journey of my American experience. It shows how I was able to integrate both my African and Country Western cultures, valuing both, as appreciating one doesn’t mean giving up the other. It also represents how I fantasized America, but slowly discovered some of the non-flattering realities that many experience and the need to stand in solidarity to improve our communities and beloved country so it truly affords justice, liberty, and freedom for all.
The main things I’d love for fans to take away from it are:
The Power of Authenticity - the courage and journey to meet yourself where you are and embrace all of who you are regardless of what boxes you’re expected to fit within.
The Power of Building Bridges - genuinely building relationships, opening up one’s mind and one’s world, enriches our perspectives/experiences and strengthens us. Authenticity facilitates bridge-building as we discover unlikely things we have in common and start to see the humanity in each other.
The Power of Healing - Again, authenticity facilitates healing (as it did for me, and as studies show).
Could you share where you are getting your inspiration from these days?
I get inspiration from my community of friends, connections and acquaintances and just what is happening in our communities and society these days.
I’m inspired to make music that inspires people to build bridges, both between the image they try to portray and who they really are or want to be, as well as bridges between themselves and other people we share the planet with, especially those who do not necessarily think or look like us.
My own journey inspires me to make music. Seeing how my healing, open-mindedness and desire for learning (no matter how painful or uncomfortable) has contributed to my transformation, growth, and enhanced ability for empathy, inspires me to want to be there for others going through their journeys and inspire others to be brave enough to take their journeys.
Could you describe yourself in one word?
Could you describe your music in one word as well?
We would love to hear a story that is close to your heart about your career so far!
A story that is really close to my heart is about my very first performance of any kind. It was the impetus of what eventually became my music career.
Growing up in Cameroon, I was the worst dancer or singer you ever met. I had the passion, but zero skill. No matter how hard I tried, people constantly told me that my body was just not made for dancing. And people tried not to sit next to me in church because they didn’t want to be tortured by my horrible voice. I was always hailed for being super book smart and derided for being a clumsy nerd with little social skills or talent. So I thought there is no music in my future, I just have to stick with the math and physics.
However, I moved to the US for college in Iowa, and lived in the dorms. An open mic night had been organized and a day before it, there hadn’t been enough sign ups. Out of desperation, the CA (community advisor) persuaded me to do a performance. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he wouldn’t let up even after I explained what a laughing stock I’ve been all my life. Finally, he said, just play some music from your country and freestyle dance to it, no need to choreograph, it will still be entertaining. I thought “Well, I’ll do it to entertain, not to prove that I’m a skilled entertainer - even if people laugh because I do, it’s still entertainment - afterall, hardly anyone knows me here, so what do I have to lose?” He persuaded enough people at the last minute, such that he didn’t have to cancel the event.
He was right. I was shocked when I got a standing ovation. Then it hit me - these people have no idea what this dance is really supposed to look like, so anything I did, they found it just fascinating. And that’s when I lost my shame, fear, and insecurities when it came to performing and entertaining. A whole world of possibilities opened. I felt like my move to a whole new world across the oceans had given me a brand new slate to redefine myself. No one here knew my history of being a horrible dancer and singer, so my actions could really be perceived at face value without being warped by prior judgments or expectations. So from then on, I made it a goal to entertain for the sake of entertainment whenever possible, even if I could get booed or ridiculed, I thought, it still entertains, as my goal was not to prove anything to anyone. I actively sought opportunities and actually planned ahead this time and even recruited other people, though I didn’t know what I was doing. I constantly kept expanding the possibilities, trying new things and taking some classes here and there including voice training.
And of course, practice makes perfect. So, today, I’m a phenomenal songwriter and singer who does various kinds of musical and dance performances including ballroom, salsa/merengue/bachata/chacha etc., country line dancing, bollywood, belly dancing, Afro-traditional, Afro-pop and many more. I wonder if any of this would have happened had that CA not persuaded me to just do something, and had I not shifted my mindset from wanting to impress, to wanting to entertain, even if it was met with ridicule. Ironically, I don’t recall ever being met with ridicule (with respect to performing) since I moved to the US.
So although that wasn’t a professional show and I wasn’t a professional performer yet, that experience is very near and dear to my heart.
Leave us with a motto you want to be known for by your fans?
Building Bridges - The miracle of authenticity.
It starts with being true to who you are so you can let others be true to who they are.
How do we continue to support your music journey? Thank you for this opportunity to interview you Setche!
You can support me and my mission of building bridges by joining my Street Team of authentic music fans and supporters by visiting www.go.BlackCountryGirl.com and dropping your email address. My street team is the backbone of my movement of building bridges. They are the first to know what’s up, and who’s input I seek when coming up with ideas or making choices. They get a chance to influence what I do, as well as be the hands and legs of bridging the divides; driving healing and more inclusive communities.
You can also support me and my mission by participating in my authenticity challenge which I will be launching on July 13th, the National Oxymoron Day. Many people (including me) thought being a Black Country Girl was an oxymoron only because of the lack of mainstream representation of Black people in country music and culture. In reality, it’s not an oxymoron since one in four cowboys were black and many black women and men have contributed to country music and culture over the decades. Many of our perceptions of human oxymorons stem from a lack of representation, stereotyping, and a suppression (whether imposed or voluntary) of who we are.
Participating in this challenge is a way of healing and building bridges so we can recognize our common humanity and potentially stand in solidarity with one another to improve our society so it works for all of us.
Visit www.go.BlackCountryGirl.com to drop your email and learn more about the challenge.