South London’s Sabiyha today releases her first single of 2021, ‘Lullaby’. A vivid celebration of her Guyanese heritage, the track has been produced by close friend Drew Jodi. Stream ‘Lullaby’ – which follows Sabiyha’s recent, BBC Introducing supported single ‘Do I Matter’ – across all platforms from here.
Furthering themes of honouring cultural and familial heritage which threaded through Sabiyha’s striking debut single ‘Choorile’, ‘Lullaby’ pays tribute in particular to her Nanny, matriarch of the vibrant extended family Sabiyha grew up around in Croydon. Whilst ‘Choorile’ reclaimed a previously dismissive Guyanese term for powerful women, ‘Lullaby’ sprung up around the tune her Nanny would sing to hush Sabiyha – and twelve other small cousins – to sleep when they were in her care. Lifting the sound of nanny’s looped chant for its intro, Sabiyha fleshes ‘Lullaby’ out with beats built up around a childhood clapping game played in her Nanny’s house. Its lyrics – very purposefully sung in broken english – summon up memories not only of a burgeoning sense of identity and belonging – ‘she does tell me of she history / she does tell me of bloodlines’ but the uncomplicated promise of ‘Curry rice and roti, fried chicken if we’re good’.
‘Lullaby’ also incorporates soundbites of her large family get-togethers — bringing the track’s ideas on family ties, identity and heritage full circle. Says Sabiyha of the emotions that played into the song-writing; My Nanny is the reason we’re all so proud of who we are. Coming from an immigrant family, people like us can be shamed into changing our identities in order to fit in to a British society. However, my Nanny taught us the importance of repping our heritage and being proud of our roots.
I wrote it in broken English to represent what I hear, and the beauty that comes with our language. There can be such a culture in England of mocking accents and language and I want to show that we’re proud of ours and it’s nothing to be laughed at. I love being Guyanese and I love exploring my culture. My Nanny had a very hard life and had taught us about her own resilience and how she has overcome real pain and struggle. That has definitely influenced me.