By Adam Perkins & Darren Warner
From Issue 7 of PLUGGED IN
Kadesha Affrica Drija, a Cardiff born singer/songwriter of Anglo/African parentage, first came to the attention of PLUGGED IN through the Make It project, a music video educational scheme run by SONIG here in our home town of Pontypridd. Then just 15, she showed a true sense of maturity that was confirmed at the project’s initial session by her just picking up a guitar and playing in front of a group of strangers — including myself.
“The Make It project was brilliant at the time because it introduced me to a whole world of new people and I was pushed forward to play at Ponty’s Big Weekend.” A true achievement!
Kadesha opened last year’s event that was headlined by X-Factor superstar Rhydian Roberts. “It was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking playing my hometown in front of 6,000 people — with half the pupils from my school, Hawthorn High, down the front of the stage. I was only allowed to play three songs but I didn’t want to get off. It was a turning point for me. I knew that singing and performing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I loved the buzz.”
But it was at a recent performance in Ton Pentre in the Rhondda Valley that really wowed PLUGGED IN. Within the year Kadesha had made a massive leap into a bona-fide fledgling star in the making. The difference in her performance was amazing. This is partially due to her positive attitude, but also because she has teamed up with Len Arran — the song writing talent who released two albums with Skin, the voice of Skunk Anansie.
“At the Big Weekend I had the added pressure of knowing that Len had come to watch my performance. He was looking for someone to write with and by luck it worked out that he was driving to London that day so come to the event. Ever since we’ve been working together, writing songs and doing acoustic shows across the UK, including London. We have a good chemistry on stage and my confidence has grown. We plan to work on an EP before the end of the year taking on board some of the songs that have changed and developed during our live performances.”
With such emotive and reflective songs, it’s hard to believe that such a young girl would have the experiences to write such material — but this is a lady whose first gig was to see the blues legend BB King and not Boyzone. “My mother has always taken me to gigs and I’ve grown up around older people, learning experiences from them. Len has helped me use those experiences to create music that you’d expect from someone twice my age.”
Quite right, if I didn’t know her myself, I’d never have believed that she is still only 16 and at school. So how does the balance between education and her music work for this young performer. “I’m currently studying for my A levels and know that passing these are important to me, but I’ll never turn down the opportunity of a good gig. It’s hard but I’ll make it work.”
Oozing such confidence you can have nothing but high regard for Kadesha. She has the looks and style to make it, but also a massive amount of talent. Believe me when I say that she WILL be a major artist one day, and that day will be sooner than you think. DARREN WARNER