The year is 2012. I am on the 7th floor of a plaza in the Central Business District of Nairobi, Kenya’s high octane capital. It is a bustling city that according to many, shapes you to live anywhere around the world.
My low-quality earphones are buzzing with “Twilight” by Cover Drive, a hit song that is on constant replay on radio stations. The song is a few months old and I cannot get enough of it. I am in an office, balancing emotions between a recent heartbreak, a new crush who’s showing me mixed signals and my very first job which is super demanding.
“Lately, I’ve been thinking I should make you mine...Been thinking that we should define...What we are, what we are, oh-oh,” I hum along to the lyrics of the song. Little did I know that I would end up being a lifelong fan of the Barbadian band.
The soulful voice was that of Amanda Reifer, former lead singer of Cover Drive, the popular Barbadian band which officially went on a hiatus in 2018.
Nation News caught up with member Barry Hill and he explained why the band was taking a break. “We’ve been touring now for six to seven years and everyone is tired. We’re taking the opportunity to get a breather and then come back fresh,” he said.
Amanda grew up having a passion for the arts and had begun singing when she was age 5. Amanda was also a fan of dancing and writing music. In order to fund her music, she would babysit her former bandmate T-Ray and model.
Fast forward to 2019, I sat down with Amanda. She has a new project out, a soulful song that instantly gives you feels. She shared intimate details of her experience working with a band that has projected her to global fame, her immediate future plans and of course the unforgettable lessons that she has gotten as an individual in the past year.
Here’s our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
Harun Momanyi: Back in September, news broke that Cover Drive was taking a break. You have had a major run in the global music scene. I remember loving “Twilight” and “Sparks” whenever they played on the radio. What do you feel was the biggest highlight of working together as a band over the years?
Amanda Reifer: For me, our biggest highlight working as a band was the success we had in the UK with our first 3 singles, especially Twilight, and the consequent experiences it afforded us. Playing for thousands and having them sing our songs back to us is one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced.
HM: A few days ago, you took to Twitter to share thoughts on your experience in 2018. You talked about growth being painful but invaluable. What’s that lesson that you’ve gotten this year?
AR: I think growth requires us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and I think the change that brings with it isn’t always comfortable for us and sometimes even others. Growth is so necessary and rewarding but it hasn't always been easy. Making decisions for myself as a woman and as an artist over the last year has brought some challenges in my life. I’ve learnt that the more you love your decisions, though, the less you care if others do.
HM: You have just dropped a soulful song called “Girls Like Me”. The YouTube video received much adoration from your fans. How would you describe your new style in music?
AR: The music I’m creating right now is unapologetic. It’s a little darker and more mature than the records I previously released with the band. It’s not all sunshine and smiles, but an honest expression of my experiences and thoughts as a young woman. My approach to writing right now is to be as candid as possible about my feelings and sometimes that means being more explicit than I have been in the past.
HM: On November 19th 2018, you announced that you’ve been working on loads of solo musical projects the past year. What should fans expect in the immediate future? Any international collaborations that you would love to tease?
AR: Yes, I have so much to share so you can expect more music very soon so don’t sleep.
HM: You worked with Rihanna at such a tender age. How did that experience impact your career afterwards?
AR: Opening for Rihanna with the band left a huge impression on me. Such a powerful and inspiring woman. Being exposed to that level of bad-ass really sticks with you and it inspires me even now, years later.
HM: You seem to love kids, Amanda. On your Instagram stories, you’ve posted a young boy. There’s also an interview you did and confessed that you’d consider dating a guy if he likes kids. Many have been speculating that he is your son. Would you care to share more about this?
AR: I do really love kids. They are the best of us. Full of imagination and self-belief. My son? Ha! You’re probably talking about my God-son. I don’t have a son. I have a lot of kids in my life through family and friends but none of them is mine. I’m not at the stage in my life yet.
HM: Apart from music, what are you currently pursuing?
AR: Music is and has always been my focus. I’ve been painting a lot recently though, It’s another way I like to express myself when I’m not in the studio.
HM: You have a major following in Kenya as we love Caribbean music. Ever considered touring my country?
AR: Really? That’s amazing. I would love to.
HM: Who has been your all-time musical muse?
AR: Sadé all day.
HM: When was the last time you cried and why?
AR: I cried watching a movie last night…tragic love stories always get me.
HM: Who’s been your most supporting person apart from your band mates?
AR: Easily my sister. She has been there for me through everything this year.
HM: Finally, what’s that something special you have to tell your fans?
AR: Thank you for supporting me and always showing love. I can’t wait to share new music with you and to meet you one day. For now, though, I’ll settle for seeing you on Instagram (@mandaminded) and Twitter (@amandareifer).
Harun Momanyi is a lifestyle contributor for Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa. He covers fashion, does celebrity interviews and is a committed advocate for sustainable development. He has been a BBC Komla Dumor Award finalist and a Forbes Africa 30Under30 nominee. Harun has worked as a Global Schools Ambassador for UN SDSN Youth. Apart from that, he is a PR consultant for various brands and public figures. You can follow him @harunmomanyi on Instagram and email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.