Multi-award-winning gospel singer/songwriter Sarah Téibo has just released ‘Like A Child’ - the lead single of her new album Keep Walking due this Summer. We spoke to Sarah about writing music, winning awards and her latest work.
Ultimately my prayer is that people are inspired when they listen to my music.
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
My earliest memories of music come from listening to Soul, R&B and Motown classics with my late Mom from the age of around three or four. I recall memories of singing along to Marvin Gaye with my mom and asking her about the artist. This was more or less my introduction to music and has to a great extent informed my taste and style in music.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style?
My musical palate has somewhat evolved over time, but it has remained firmly grounded in R&B and soul. I have had so many ‘favourite’ artists at different stages of my life, but I can say three of my biggest influences have been Whitney Houston for the power in her vocals, Kim Burrell for her vocal dexterity and Fred Hammond for his incomparable writing and production skills.
How would you describe your style?
In a few words, soulful gospel. The message being undeniably infused with the hope and light that comes from God’s love and the style being firmly rooted in soulful sounds that touch your heart strings and make you want to put the song on repeat.
What drives you to write?
In many cases life experiences are my biggest motivation for writing. For example on my debut album ‘Walk With Me’, there is a song (actually one of the main hits), called ‘Steal my Joy’. It’s an uptempo song which I wrote one Monday morning as I was greeted by train delays at the station. It was obvious I was going to be extremely late for work and we all know how that feels!
I had to tell myself ‘don’t let this set back get you all ruffled because you really can’t control it. What you can control, is how you respond right now. So don’t let this unpleasant inconvenience steal your joy’. I brought out my phone and started recording the first lines of the song ‘do you know what it feels like, when your train has been delayed…’ and so the song was birthed. I’ve had so many people tell me how it resonates with them and is literally the story of their lives.
You released your debut album Walk With Me in 2016. What were its themes?
I would say in true ‘Sarah Téibo’ style, the album is infused with uniquely soulful yet contemporary songs all carrying in various ways, themes of faith, love and our constant need to walk with God on a day to day basis. It’s an 11-track album which ranges from soulful, infectious numbers such as ‘New Day’ and ‘Special’ to bouncing up-tempo tunes like ‘I Will Sing!’ and the hit single from the project ‘Steal my Joy’.
‘Walk With Me’ was nomninated for Best Gospel Act at the MOBO Awards in 2016 and won best album at the Premier Gospel Awards in 2017. How did that feel?
On the MOBO nomination, I was elated, pleasantly surprised, humbled and grateful to put it in a few words! Especially seeing as not only was I a new artist who had just released my debut album in May the same year, but also I was the only female nominee and I was up against some stiff competition in this category including Guvna B and other artists, some of whom had been in the game for nearly a decade and had established fan bases. Winning the best album at the prestigious Premier Gospel awards in 2017 was another pleasant surprise for me and I’m just grateful that all the hard work paid off.
How has it affected the way your approach to writing music?
I don’t think the way I write has been impacted by the attention I’ve received from the nominations and awards. If anything, it’s made me more tenacious with my approach to promotion and fan engagement, seeing as more people have now been introduced to my work and music as a result.
Tell us about your new single ‘Like A Child’. What’s it about?
The idea and original melody for the song came to me back in 2015, when we were on a family holiday in Cornwall. I was reflecting on how sometimes I needlessly worry so much about stuff that God has already sorted out. The words of the song encourage us to embrace our inner child and like children, to worry less and trust more, casting our cares on God, as we go through the highs and lows that are inevitably characteristic of this journey called Life.
How does this single compare to your other music?
Compared to my other songs, this track has a very strong Motown influence and showcases the ‘old soul’ that I am. I really enjoyed making the record with my producer GKID and the features Tehillah Daniel and Jason Nicholson-Porter bring an added touch of class to it.
How does it build on your previous themes and music style?
It’s very much in keeping with the inspirational themes you would hear on my other songs and just goes to show how important faith is in our day to day lives
What are your hopes for the single?
I’m hoping for as much reach as possible geographically and on all digital streaming platforms. Ultimately my prayer is that people are inspired when they listen to my music.
When and where can we expect to see you live next?
In June, I have the album release concert at the Pizza Express Live Venue in Holborn, London.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Fred Hammond and Kim Burrell.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
I would go back to yesterday and tell myself ‘don’t worry about tomorrow!’.
Watch the video for ‘Like a Child’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates go to sarahteibo.co.uk.