‘Young Veteran, New Classic’, Sampa the Great proves the weight of her name.
Emily Fortune
12:11 22nd November 2019

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Nearing the end of her sold-out string of UK shows, the Zambian-born, Botswana-raised, Australia-based artist Sampa The Great brought a taste of her varying homelands into a densely-packed venue filled with highly-anticipating fans to give us a live display of her latest project The Return.

Opening with ‘Freedom’ the talent of the seven-piece band on stage tonight soon becomes clear. Backing vocalists Jace XL, Kylie Chirunga and Carlotta Adams bring nothing short of soul, their voices perfectly complementing Sampa’s energetic, fast-paced verses with their delicacy.

Performing across her discography from the massively successful ‘Energy’ to more introspective tracks ‘Leading Us Home’ and ‘Heaven’, Sampa keeps the crowd on their toes. She performs her latest project’s opening track ‘Mwana’ in her native language of Bemba to captivation from the audience. Music, she interludes, is itself a language. The crowd hang on her every word. 

Addressing the importance of home, Sampa brought us into hers. Through the creation of a vibrant and wholesome atmosphere Sampa displays an unwavering ability to bring energy into any space. Between songs, she speaks about her journey of self-growth, giving a beautiful context to every track. 

She performs ‘Flowers’ from her previous project, before moving onto ‘Black Girl Magik’ which she explains she came to write for her younger sister. After encouraging the black women in the crowd to chant ‘I am beautiful!’ in sync with her, she starts up powerful track 'Birds and the BEE9’.

Bringing the show to a close, she finishes with the relentlessly versed ‘Rhymes To The East’ before leaving the stage amongst intense calls for her return. An encore hears ‘Wake Up’ before bouncing back with ‘Light It Up’ and moving into the wonderfully melodic ‘Diamond In The Ruff’. 

After performing ‘Brand New’ with executive producer and keyboard player Silentjay, Sampa gives her incredibly talented band the chance to introduce themselves with album interlude ‘Give Love’. 

Rounding out the immersive experience, she jumps into the up-tempo ‘OMG’ before finishing the show by hopping into the crowd to play ‘Final Form’. Sampa's performance tonight is one that will solidify her incredible artistic status, her talent fuelled by emotional commentary and the beautiful atmosphere she encourages through her live shows.


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Photo: Fabrice Bourgelle /Press