With music, you often don't have to translate it. It just affects you, and you don't know why.
"I am not to be put in one genre when I am a combination of things that made me who I am, my sound and my story. As an artist I can only be uniquely me."
SAFIYA LESLIE: Musician, Producer, Engineer
Emerging from a chrysalis of positivity and consciousness, Safiya is an artist who transcends the norm by infusing her past with her future. Flavoring her sounds with musical dialects hailing from not only jazz but of her Afro-Caribbean roots. Safiya Leslie is bringing new energy and a young soul to the reggae scene today. Safiya and her powerful band possess jazz chops, urban attitude, and Caribbean beauty. Her and her band takes you to collect all your passport stamps every time she performs.
Growing up in the cultured borough of The Bronx in New York City, Safiya Leslie, has always been surrounded by the cultures of the world. The streets were always filed with music and seemed to follow her everywhere. The sounds of Salsa and bachata in every bodega to Haitian konpa and Brazilian samba escaping from car radios, music was infused into her from all sides. At home, Safiya was enveloped in a world of flavors that influence her current sound.
From her mother who hails from the country of Trinidad and Tobago, she was surrounded by Calypso, Soca, Bollywood, and parang. Her dad, always the conscious poet, taught her the realities of the musicians he listened to while sharing his love of their music. From Sade and Earth Wind & Fire to the great Nina Simone and Legendary Michael Jackson, he explained that music is more then what it appears. That music, if it's true music, reflect the times as well as the spirit of a musician. Lastly, from the beautiful island of Jamaica which her stepfather is from, came the sounds of reggae and dancehall.
From a young age, no one doubted that this young woman was destined for music. Whether it was dancing with Alvin Ailey Schools junior division and Mad Hot Ballroom program in New York City or singing along to music everywhere she went, it was undeniable. It wasn't until she went to the prestigious Fame schools, the Professional Performing Arts School, that she knew her path was to jazz.
Whilst being trained and singing classically with the National Chorale underneath the direction of Vagarshak Ohanyan from 2011-2015, she developed a new passion for jazz. She clung to the freedom of improvisation which contrasted differently to the arias and art songs she learned at school. Seeing this new passion, her mother put her in the New York Jazz Workshop, where she studied underneath Olivia Foschi, Fay Victor, and Jocelyn Medina.
Safiya is currently pursuing a Dual degree in Music Production & Engineering and Music Business Entrepreneurship as well as a minor in Ethnomusicology at Berklee College of Music. During her time at Berklee, she has become a prominent and founding member of Riddim Symphony, A soca band where she has opened up for the likes of Dancehall Artist, Konshens and Reggae artist, Keznamdi. She also has her own band, Safiya and Friends, where she combines her reggae roots with her innate jazz style.
Ever the Activist, her music breathes hope and awareness to a world that seems to be on the verge of the next new trauma. She is one of those Artist who continue to show time and time again that if there is ever a situation that needs care for, she will be right on the frontlines to help. In 2017, after the tirade of hurricanes had passed through and wrecked havoc on many Caribbean islands, Safiya pledged to make every performance she was in a hurricane relief benefit. In total she was able to raise over $500 for Non-for-profits such as Boston for Dominica, USVI STRONG, Wadadil Cultural Association, and United Way USVI. Her efforts led her to perform for the Prime Minister of Dominica and other dignitaries representing Dominica. Last year she did it again and dedicated her show to flood relief to her Mothers home Country of Trinidad & Tobago when rapid flooding and earthquakes effected the country. This led to her being invited to perform for many dignitaries from the Bahamas, St. Kits and Nevins, St. Vincent, Antigua and Trinidad.
Because her love for the Caribbean is so strong, she hopes that in her future she could open a recording studio/Musician collective in the West Indies to bring cultures together and unify the people in them. She founded and is now the president of the first and only Caribbean student club that’s ever been at Berklee, Students of Caribbean Ancestry (S.O.C.A). Safiya just organized a show in the BPC called Rise! To showcase not only Caribbean culture to berklee but also to the rest of Boston. Her time at berklee is coming to end in the winter but before then she plans to do more to show Berklee just how amazing Caribbean culture is.