Rafiya combines eclectic, multicultural elements into her R&B music on her upcoming debut.
Some students on the doorsteps of graduation may struggle with their future plans, but Temple alum and R&B singer Rafiya has not been one of those people.
Rafiya has managed to do several things in her young life, traveling the world at an early age, graduating from Temple with honors, teaching at a New Jersey High School and recording her upcoming EP, on which she sings in several different languages.
As the daughter of a Congolese diplomat, her father’s occupation allowed the now 26-year-old, who was born in Los Angeles, to travel to such places as Benin, Senegal and Cape Verde, to name a few, spending approximately three years in each country.
The experience of living in several different places has also affected her musically in terms of the instrumentation and arrangements on her EP.
The four songs on the EP, which is set to be released Nov. 17, were recorded in Philadelphia, New York and Paris. The EP features the recently released single “Amazing.”
Rafiya described her music as diverse and said it shows who she is as a person.
“I sing in French, English, and I have two songs in Lingala, a language from the Congo,” she said. “Those two songs are covers of classic songs from the Congo.”
The 2006 graduate said she does not want to stop with the three languages she speaks and sings in.
“I want to sing in every possible language, including Spanish,” said Rafiya, who teaches Spanish at a Catholic School and double majored in the language, along with sociology at Temple.
She also plans on learning Portuguese, the national language of Mozambique, the south African republic where her parents live.
Besides singing and learning different languages, teaching is also one of Rafiya’s passions. She is currently in her second year of teaching high school.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s rewarding dispensing knowledge to the students.”
One of her long-term goals is to actually own a school in her native land of the Congo. Rafiya said she would like to begin a literacy school there.
Of all the places she has lived, she said one place that affected her greatly was Philadelphia, during her time at Temple.
“I transferred from La Salle, and I’m glad I did,” she said. “I loved the diversity, the energy of the campus, and I loved all of my professors.”
Rafiya was also inspired by Philadelphia’s creative spirit.
“Philadelphia is the only city I ever lived in the United States, and it’s definitely very artistic,” she said. “It stimulates me as in artist to get into my art.”
After releasing her EP on Nov. 17, Rafiya plans to write more material and shop her songs to a major label. To catch her stripped-down, acoustic afro-soul sound, visit her MySpace page at myspace.com/rafiyamusik.
Jermar Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.