16 Black European female singers you should know

Emily Sande

Because it's Black History Month a special Black History compilation of chart-topping Afro-European (or Black European) female singers, who made their mark nationally and internationally.  

The compilation is in chronological order and a pick from each European country. From the British band Sade to Ukrianian singer Gaitana (Гайтана) to Irish singer Emily Sande and many more.

1. Sade (UK) - Your Love Is King - 1984

The band Sade is named after the Nigerian born British female singer Sade Adu or simply Sade. Sade is considered as one of the most successful British female artists in history. "Your Love Is King" is from best-selling albums of the era, Diamond Life.  

Sade is born in Nigeria and moved to England. Her father is Nigerian, her mother English.




2. Mica Paris (UK) - My One Temptation  - 1988

The R&B song was the hit single of British singer Mica Paris, the debut album became platinum certified in the UK. 

Mica Paris, real name Michelle Wallen, is born in London to Jamaican parents. She is the cousin of Chris Eubank, a British former professional boxer.

 

3. Neneh Cherry (Sweden) - Buffalo Stance - (1988)

Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Neneh Cherry was born in Stockholm as Neneh Mariann Karlsson to a Swedish mother and Sierra Leonean father. 

She topped the charts with the successful single  "Buffalo Stance" is part of her debut album "Raw Like Sushi". 

About the meaning of Buffalo Stance she said: "It means an attitude you have in order to get by. It's not about fashion but about survival in inner cities and elsewhere."  




4. Melis Sökmen (Turkey) - Özlediğim - 1992

Turkish singer Melis Sökmen is often called the Whitney Houston of Turkey. The title of the song Özlediğim" can be translated as 'The one that I miss". 

Melis Sökmen regards herself an Afro-Turk, she has a Guinean grandmother. In the song "Özlediğim" she shows a picture of her and sings about her.



5. Native (France) - Si la vie demande ça - 1993

Native was the name French R&B group composed of the sisters Laura Mayne and Chris Mayne. The group separated in January 1999 for artistic and career reasons.

The hit song "Si la vie demande ça" can be translated as "If life demands that". 

Both sisters are born in France to Martinique parents.



6. Zap Mama (Belgium) - Adventures to Afropea I - 1993

Zap Mama is a five-woman a cappella group, which was founded by Marie Daulne. The album "Afropea I " became 1993's best-selling world music album and established Zap Mama as an international concert sensation.

Marie Daulne was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a Belgian father and Congolese mother.



7. Des'ree (UK) - You Gotta Be - 1994

The song "You Gotta Be" of British singer and songwriter Des'ree became a certified hit in several countries. The song is all about self-power and self-confidence.

Des'ree, real name Desirée Weekes, was born in London, her mother is from Guyana and her father is from Barbados.



8. Les Nubians (France) - Makeda - 1998 

Les Nubian is the name of the French music group consisting of sisters Helene and Celia Faussart. Their album "Princesses Nubiennes"  became first French-language hit in the US in 25 years . 

The sisters Helene and Celia Faussart were born in France to a French father and a Cameroonian mother.



9. Buika (Spain) - New Afro spanish generation - 2005

Concha Buika is a Grammy nominated singer from Spain. In her music she combines jazz, flamenco, pop soul and African music.  "Buika"  is the name of her debut album.

Buika was born Concha Buika on the Spanish island of Mallorca, to parents who arrived to Spain as political exiles from Equatorial Guinea.



10. Joy Denalane (Germany) - Born & Raised - 2005

Joy Denalane is Germany's 'undisputed Queen of soul', wrote the BBC. The album's title and track "Born & Raised" is her story about growing up as a mixed race girl in Berlin.

Joy Denalane was born in Germay to a South African father and a German mother. The late South African flugelhorn legend Hugh Masekela was her uncle.



11. Tasha's world (The Netherlands) - Glowing Growing - 2005

Tasha's World is the artist name of Dutch singer Natascha Slagtand. She performed worldwide and is sometimes called the Dutch Erykah Badu. 

Natascha Slagtand was born in the city of Rotterdam to Surinamese parents. She was one the first Black female souls singers in the the Netherlands, but she needed Japan, the UK and the US, to be fully embraced in the Netherlands.



12. Sara Tavares (Portugal) - Balancê - 2006 

Sara Tavares is a Grammy nominated Portuguese singer and composer. She also reprensented Portugal in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Her music is categorised as world music.

For the album Balancê she wrote all the songs herself and during the recording she also played a large part of the instruments herself.

Sara Tavares was born in  Lisbon to Cape Verdean parents.



13. Ayo (Germany) - Down On My Knees - 2006

Ayo is the artist name of a German singer/songwriter Joy Ogunmakin, she was born near the German city of Cologne to a Nigerian father and a German-Sinti mother.

 "Down On My Knees" was a mega hit and the album reached Double-Platinum status in several countries.



14. Gaitana (Гайтана) (Ukraine)  - Shaleniy (Шаленій) - 2007 

Gaitana is the artist name of Ukrainian singer and songwriter Gaita Essami, she was born in Kyiv to a Ukrainian mother and father from the Republic of the Congo.

The R&B song entitled "Shaleniy (Шаленій)" can be translated as "Crazy". 

Gaitana represented Ukraine in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest.



15. Estelle (UK) - American Boy [Feat. Kanye West] - 2008 

Estelle is the artist name of British rapper singer Estelle Swaray. The song "American Boy" was a worldwide hit and the album and ultimately won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

Estelle was born in London to a Grenadian father and a Senegalese mother.



16. Emeli Sandé (UK) - Next to Me - 2012

Emeli Sandé is an award winning Scottish singer and songwriter. The song "Next to Me" became global hit and was the 14th best-selling single of 2012 in the UK

Emeli Sandé was born in the English city of Sunderland and raised in the large village of Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, by an English mother and a Zambian father.



Updated Dec 22th, 2022

6 Comments

  1. Some of favorite ladies! Sade, Zap Mamma, Buika, Des'ree...they are great. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would add Casandra Steen and Emile Sandé to this beautiful list. Love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right, but Steen and Sandé are of a different generation.

      Delete
  3. Great list zap mama and Tasha's world are my favorite. Too bad I don't hear
    I need new music from them

    ReplyDelete
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