Classical Music

Camilla George has released a new album inspired by myth, story, and identity


London saxophonist, composer, and teacher Camilla George is an award-winning, genre-bending artist.

Her third major album Ibio-Ibio is a promotion and celebration of her heritage, the Ibibio people of south-eastern coastal Nigeria. The single Creation — Abasi and Atai shares a powerful story; “the genesis of my Ibibio people, as created by rulers Abasi and Atai, who represent togetherness, family and community,” Camilla said in a statement. 

“The Ibibio people are regarded as the most ancient of all ethnic groups in Nigeria and the story of how their world began is so little known and its meaning is so inspirational.”

We made some time to chat with Camilla about this exciting new album of music, which she co-produced and is released on Ever Records/!K7 Music, featuring some of London’s leading names in jazz.

Camilla George (credit Daniel Adhami).

Hi Camilla, thanks for joining us and congratulations on your album Ibio-Ibio! This is your third major album after Isang and The People Could Fly. What are you most looking forward to with the release of this new album?

Thank you! I’m looking forward to showcasing my writing for a larger ensemble. This album features a horn section, kora, rapper, three drummers, and vocals!

I’m wondering if you could tell us a bit about your creative process when it comes to composition and songwriting. 

I am mainly influenced by stories when I write, which I was why I spent such a long time doing research for my latest album Ibio-Ibio. I wanted to immerse myself in the myths and stories that surround the Ibibio people.

You’ve championed the saxophone as a versatile, genre-bending, and lyrical instrument. What do you think gives the saxophone its richness?

I think the saxophone has the ability to mimic the human voice — the alto in particular, which gives scope in terms of creating different sounds and timbres.

Who have been some of your own artistic influences through your years as a creator and performer of music?

A big influence of mine is Kenny Garrett for his compositional prowess and mastery of the instrument. I am also very influenced by Sonny Stitt.

In Ibio-Ibio, you’ve collaborated with an impressive line-up of artists from London and beyond. What did you find was most enriching and rewarding about working with such esteemed musical figures?

I found it hugely informative to collaborate with so many musicians who are all at the top of their game. I learnt a lot about artistry by having spent time in their presence.

Ibio-Ibio is a celebration of your heritage and culture. What are some of the stories we can hear shared through your music?

One of my favourite tracks is about Ekpe, the secret society that my Grandad and Great Grandad were part of. It is responsible for law and order in the village, but also for upholding ancient customs. I find it fascinating.   

What advice would you give to emerging musical artists?

The advice I would give to them is be persistent but create healthy boundaries. There will be a time when, in order to get good, music will need to be everything — but I think it is also important to have boundaries so it doesn’t get too much, and to understand that it’s not the absolute end of the world if you don’t play well and to pick yourself up and try again.

You need to be disciplined, but you should also remember to be kind to yourself.

Find Camilla George’s new album Ibio-Ibio on Bandcamp.

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