Re-inventing Nigeria in Italy: The Sonia Aimy style

Posted: June 22, 2011 in art/entertainment

As a singer, actress, choreographer and writer, Edo State-born Sonia Aimy masterfully blends the sounds of its ancestral African pop with a clever and enjoyable, with the result of giving the public music that is both old, new, sophisticated, catchy, clever and funny.

Welcome to the world of Sonia Aimy (real name Sonia Aimiuwu) who has succeeded in not only redefining the image of the country in the rather controversial (if not notorious) Italy but also that of her own kith and kin in that European country.

Sonia has indeed etched her name deep in the arts and culture circles of Italy thus almost single-handedly reconstructing the image of Nigeria in the minds of Italians through her extensive works in theatres and radio stations in Italy.

As an actress working for various theatre companies including: Teatro di Roma, Teatro Stabile of Turin, Italian Radio and Television, with Paolo Rossi (Agis), Fabularasa Turin, Society and Mind Move Lisbon, African Group Magic of Budapest, and many others, Sonia Aimy also doubles as the artistic director of the African Theatre.

She conducted several radio programmes dedicated to culture and African music. She also collaborates with the National Theatre of Nigeria as a trainer in several courses on African theatre and choreography.

With a velvety voice comparable to the greats, this Nigerian born songwriter, singer and actress Sonia Aimy is the quintessential virtuoso of world music. Her CD ‘Mother’ brilliantly evokes highlife, afrobeat, jazz and the call-and-response of African griot tradition; her style is effortlessly ‘afrojazz’.

Fluent in English, Italian, French and several African languages, Sonia enjoys exploring Toronto’s diversity, which, already knee-deep in African music, will be much richer once she takes the stage on Canada Day!

Sonia ‘Aimy’ Aimiuwu is a singer, actress choreographer and writer. Aimy’s work experience in the arts has led her to work with the national theatre of Turin, Rome, Alma Theatre as well as RAI Radio Television Italia. She has performed at numerous concerts throughout Europe and often accompanied by artists from Africa. The multi-talented Aimy has also starred in several Italian films. Aimy’s work in the media includes writing, directing and presenting multicultural programmes for radio.

Aimy’s music career started when she was in her teens, singing at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Benin City, Nigeria. She developed interest in folk, traditional music and storytelling. She later enrolled in the Esigie Cultural Group to pursue further education in traditional music and dance.

When she came to Italy she studied jazz music and interpretation as well as theatre arts. This extra music education as well as practice through performances has allowed Aimy to craft a sound solely her own which is a beautiful amalgam of folk, afro-pop and jazz.

This immensely talented actress also trained with the Council of Europe as Cultural Manager for minorities’ project in Europe. Sonia started to sing as a child chorister in the gospel group the St Joseph Catholic Church in Benin City, Nigeria.

Later, her interest in folk music, traditional and curiosity for the stories, the art of story, the acting and dance led her to undergo training with the group demands for several years. Sonia’s work experience in the arts has seen her work with the National theatre of Turin, National theatre of Rome, Alma theatre, Zelig (TV cabaret programme), Fabularasa theatre, Eco-Art company, Agidi productions (Paolo Rossi), RAI (Radio Television Italian), and artistic director of the African theatre in Turin. She has played in concerts on national and international festivals.

The multi-talented Sonia has also starred in Italian films: Louise Nero(Inferno),Maria Marontelli (Banca del Tempo), Annamaria Gallone (Il Paradiso), As a project manager, Sonia has managed numerous international projects with Council of Europe for Youth Programme in Hungary, Portugal, France, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria, Norway and Italy. She was also Project Manager for Youth Express Network (France), Young Women from Minority (Sweden), Minorities of Europe (United Kingdom), and Portugal for African cultural events. She directing and presenting multicultural Radio programmes. Babala Salah on Radio Torino Popolare 96.7FM and Afromania on Radio Flash 97.6FM.

She also wrote, directed and choreographed her own version of Shango, Idia, Women on Stage, Racism, Rhythms and Voices from Africa, Rhythm and Melody of Migrants, Fat but Beautiful, among others.

“Miss Aimiuwu” conceptualized and remained the artistic director of African Festival in Turin, as well as organizing and coordinating African cultural events for different cities of Italy including Arezzo, Torino, Chieri, Padova, Genova and Alpignano. She introduced Nollywood to Italy through a collaboration with COE (international African, Asian, Latin American film festival of Milan).

She is the founder of Afro Festival Association, Active member of Alma Terra Association – writing and managing project for African women in particular Nigerians. Sonia has represented Italy in international seminars and conferences on minorities’ issues, represented minorities in Italy on African art, collaborated with artistes such as Ignawa (Morocco), Dudu Ndiaye Mbegel and Mbaye Ndiaye (Senegal), Adao Ramos (Cape Verde), Manuela Tavares (Angola – Portugal), Rodica Manciu (Romania), Mohammed Cheikh (Tunisia), Gabin Dabiré (Burkina Faso), Were-Were Liking (Ivory-Coast), and a host of others.

She is an author and writer with credits including “Il colore sulla pelle”(The colour on the Skin) (Harmattan Italia, 2002), “Le culture intrecciate: Letteratura e migrazione”(Harmattan Italia, 2007), “Poesia vagabonda”(Settimopoesia 2003), “Lingua Madre”(Edizioni SEB 27, 2006)

She was nominated among the best writers in a national contest organised by Centro Studi Pensiero Feminile promoted by the Regional government, International Book Fair and Turin World Capital of Book fair. Sonia’s talent and effort has been recognised in the society through awards and nominations like: Best Positive Figure for Youths in Turin and Caserta (2005/2006); Millennium Models Nominee by Platinum Bank Limited, Nigeria in 2003; Nominated in 2005 by AfroLife magazine among the Top Ten Nigerians in Italy.

On May 10, 2008, Sonia received an award in recognition of her work and commitment to end human trafficking through Art and Culture and with this award she ranks amongst politicians, journalists, and poets awarded in previous years, including Minister Paolo Ferrero, Stephen Ogongo, Toni Capuozzo, Fabrizio Gatti, Claudio Golier, Elvira Dones, Younis Taofick, Don Ciotti.

‘Miss Aimy’, as she is called by some of her close friends, is a hardworking person, who manages her time more creatively through a lot of artistic activities. Her kind and generous spirit could be felt in the lyrics of her recent music album. In the awe of her creativity, she has exhibited the trends of her root (Africa), through a lot of cultural events.

Sonia currently lives and works in Toronto (Canada).

Meanwhile, under the presentation of the Batuki Music Society and the Gladstone Hotel, Aimy will on Friday July 1, perform at the Melody Bar, the next in the World Concert Series that takes place on the first Friday of every month.

The concert will feature a diverse line-up of performers with a strong focus on African music. Guest DJ Apollo will spin from his extensive collection of African popular and classic hits.

Sonia Aimy will be backed by a lineup of some of Toronto’s top African players including guitarist Pa Joe, bassist Ebenezer Agyekum, keyboardist Suleiman Juma and Kwame on drums.

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Comments
  1. Sonia Aimy says:

    Hi Nze,
    just want to commend your effort for this publication.

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