Elsy Wameyo Announces Debut Album 'Saint Sinner' With New Single 'Umva'

22 May 2024 | 1:15 pm | Ellie Robinson

“I knew I was having this battle between saint and sinner, I just didn’t understand it.”

Elsy Wameyo

Elsy Wameyo (Credit: Holyziner)

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Elsy Wameyo has announced her hotly anticipated debut album, Saint Sinner, sharing the news today (May 22) alongside a scorching new single from it titled Umva.

Opening up in a press release, the Nairobi-born, Adelaide-based singer, rapper and producer noted how the track offered her an opportunity to “flex, but still speak my truth”. She said of its genesis: “I remember immediately feeling like this was what sounded more like [2022 EP] Nilotic, in terms of sound and sonics; it was where I comfortably sat, where I was during the production of that record. It was coming from a place where, internally, I was feeling this album.

“Internally, I knew I was having this battle between saint and sinner, I just didn’t understand it. I didn’t know what it was. I wrote this verse with Motez before that London trip... I had to say certain things and this was one of those verses, where it was my body – whether I liked it or not – saying, ‘We have to get this out, because it’s the only way we’re going to heal.’”

Wameyo went on to explain that ‘umva’ translates to ‘listen’, and the title was suggested by her photographer. “When [producer Wuod Omollo] had done the track,” she continued, “we were jumping around and listening to it and he said the word ‘umva’. I thought it was really cool, and he told me it means ‘listen’. I ran with that so hard. It was perfect. It was exactly the energy I wanted: when I speak, you’d better sit down and listen. When I enter a room, you stand up and you must salute. Respect.”

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Saint Sinner will arrive independently on July 26, and Umva lands as our third preview of it: lead single Sinner arrived first back in January, followed by Piny Lara in March. The LP has been teased as “a potent collection of music that journeys themes of identity and spirituality”, which “documents a poignant chapter of [Wameyo’s] personal and artistic evolution”.

The artist herself expounded on its themes: “I know I had always yearned to say these certain things; I never found the perfect way to say it. Especially when you’re a young black girl, no one is encouraging you to speak your mind. I know for a fact that these are words that I’ve definitely sat with for a long time.”

Wameyo worked on the album in Kenya alongside Omollo in the producer’s chair, plus colleagues like Polycarp and Ywaya Tajiri. Preorders are available now – head here to secure yours.