Beloved Nigerian vocalist, entrepreneur, actress and activist Sonia Aimy reconnects with her creative heart via quarantine-inspired reflections and self-realizations on her latest album Reconnect ( released worldwide on October 1st, 2021 via Slammin Media).
If there is anyone who can persuasively bring together African cultures with the rest of the world through music and action, it is Sonia Oduwa Aimy. With her voice of shimmering velvet, her energy and soulful appeal, Sonia spreads joy as she irresistibly blends afro-jazz, afrobeat, highlife, and the African griot call- and-response tradition. Her infectious joie de vivre and indomitable spirit shine through in her performances and her recordings – her 2021 album Reconnect (Slammin Media/Saimy’s Art) and her self- produced 2017 album Nigerian Spirit (distributed by Believe). They resonate as well through her most recent project, the film TRACE: Tracing African Canadian Extraordinaire¸ which premiered in February 2023 during Black History Month. She was executive producer and director of this ambitious film, which recognizes the selfless efforts of seven African Canadians from across the country – leaders in business, academics, the arts, philanthropy and advocacy issues – whose remarkable accomplishments, hitherto mostly unsung, have made a strong impact on the community. Co-produced with filmmaker and entrepreneur Kennedy Seed, with funding from the Government of Canada, TRACE reflects the many talents and vocations of Sonia Aimy: her singing, song writing, acting, production skills and her social and artistic activism. To complement her film, Sonia created and recorded its title song, TRACE: Tracing African Canadian Extraordinaire, dancing to it in the video of the same name. TRACE almost didn’t happen. Sonia’s once endless creativity had come to an abrupt halt with the Covid 19 lockdown. After nearly two decades of being constantly on the move, she was suddenly despondent. The only way through was to take a thorough look at her life so far, and out of her dejection came newfound insights that deepened her song writing. The result was the album Reconnect. TRACE followed soon after. The Further: Underground Generation Going Further deemed Reconnect “magnificent and pure”, and “a musical gift we all need to listen to…. (It) will give you hope, happiness, and emotional sensations.”The album has been welcomed enthusiastically and received airplay around the planet. A “great post-lockdown record, like a soundtrack for a rebirth,” raved the Belgium-based blog Turn Up the Volume. New York-based Afropop Worldwide wrote of the new title-track single and video, “Melding together the funky contemporary with the traditional – like the talking drum – Sonia Aimy is dancing the steps of her ancestors.” From those ancestors came a firm grounding not only in music but also in storytelling and other arts, along with a strong moral compass. Growing up in Benin City, Nigeria, she absorbed the values of her mother’s native Bini people, while surrounded by Muslim and Christian cultures, and being exposed to the rich diversity of musical styles from the entire African continent and abroad. By 11, she was singing in public. In her teens, she moved to Italy, where she received a diploma in music performance from the Centro Jazz in Turin and began crafting the sound that has become distinctly her own. Fluent in English, Italian, French and several African dialects, she also took theatre training, and by 23 was touring widely as an actress and singer across Italy, and to France, Spain, Hungary, Portugal and beyond. She performed in concerts alongside African musical legends Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Mahotella Queens. In theatre, she toured for 14 years with the National Theatre of Turin as the first Black Cinderella, and appeared with the National Theatre of Rome and Paolo Rossi’s Agidi Productions among other companies. With La Bazzarra Theatre company in Naples, she portrayed Miriam Makeba in a play about Makeba and Nelson Mandela. She can also be seen and heard in Italian media, playing a key role in Louis Nero’s widely screened short film Il Mistero di Dante. The national broadcaster RAI featured her in leads in the radio dramas I Segreti di San Salvario and Il Mistero di’Acacia (both directed by Carlo Vergnano), and in 44 episodes of the TV series Cantieri d’Italia, directed by Giancarlo Ronchi. She also appeared in the feature film Il Paradiso, directed by Annamaria Gallone. Sonia played an important part in introducing Nollywood (Nigeria’s version of Hollywood) to Italy through her work with Gallone at Milan’s Festival del Cinema Africano, d’Asia e America Latina. With the city of Turin, she programmed artistic content and performances at the annual festival Identità e Differenza, among other international projects. Merging her skills, she scored music for theatre and film productions, as well as coaching singers and working with actors, not only on their technique but also on self-promotion and entrepreneurship. She continues to offer such services through her company Saimy’s Art, applying the depth and breadth of her knowledge to promote the best of African arts, artists, actors, entertainment and production. It was also in Italy that Sonia began her extraordinary work with youth, mainly of African descent. She had become keenly aware of racism and human trafficking, and through the Council of Europe Youth Directorate took leadership training that focused on human rights and project development for minorities. She researched, wrote, directed, and produced Afrocentric themed plays and concerts to make young people aware and proud of their heritage. Presented by Italy’s Afro Festival Association, which she had founded, in conjunction with Turin’s city and regional governments, these productions showcased African singers, dancers and actors, sometimes withyoung Caucasian Italians and Asians participating in the cast. Her growing concern for justice also became reflected in her song lyrics. Sonia brought her advocacy work to Canada when she first visited in 2013. The Ontario-based, non-profit organization African Women Acting (AWA), which she founded, aims to empower and present African artists, and to foster African culture through its music, storytelling, visual arts, and movies. It also gives masterclasses for artistic development. On pressing social issues such as sexism, discrimination, racism, and mental health, AWA explores solutions and offers support. Young women and youths are a particular focus of its work. Under AWA’s auspices, she created, choreographed, and, with Professor Omofolabo Ajayi- Soyinka, co-wrote Voices of Orisa, a workshop production about discovering African spirituality. For it, she trained youths from the challenged Toronto communities of Scarborough and the Jane-Finch area and gave them the opportunity to work with established artists in a professional context, through a mix of chanting, dance, live music and narration. All the diverse strands of her work come together in her film TRACE and express the theme of her album Reconnect. “I imagine myself someday in Africa,” says Sonia, “with my Caribbean brothers and sisters, and all members of the African diaspora reconnecting through music that resonates with culture and traditions that have been preserved.” Like Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Mahotella Queens, she keeps building bridges, not just within the African diaspora but also between all peoples through sharing her music, her productions, her knowledge, her activism, and her enthusiasm. Sonia Aimy’s life philosophy will continue to drive her and inspire others. As she says, “It is not how far you go, or how much you do, but how well you understand and appreciate every bit of what it takes to live a beautiful life until our call time!” For more information, visit
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