On Friday the 13th at Baby’s All Right, we were graced with the presence of Sudanese artist, Gaidaa, an R&B singer whose killer riffs sent chills down our spines. On the heels of her new single release, “Something True,” Gaidaa embarks on her first headline tour–-a major milestone for her career. Her breakout hit, “Falling Higher,” was featured on her first album, Overture, where she explores both the thrill of youth and the heartbreak that comes with growing up in songs like “I Like Trouble,” and “Stranger” feat. Saba and Jarreau Vandal, and the soulful “Morning Blue.”
Opener, Halima, a U.K.-based R&B and rap, set the mood for an intimate show with her stage presence and infectious energy. Before Gaidaa stepped on stage, her own narration blared from the speakers, asking the crowd to take a deep breath before she made her entrance. Her performance of “Morning Blue” was particularly powerful, with politically-charged lyrics reflecting on the conflict in Sudan as the audience waved their phones in the air with flash on, creating a dazzling sea of light. New York was a pivotal part of Gaidaa’s growth as an artist, and she expressed the importance of this show to her career and personal journey as a musician. Her stripped-down cover of Usher’s “O.M.G.” was a showcased her vocal chops and soulful delivery that can make duller pop lyrics shine. Gaidaa’s authenticity, charisma, and powerful vocals captured the audience and created an intimate mood that made us feel at home in her music and in her voice.
We sat down with Gaidaa after her show at Baby’s All Right, where she answered a few questions for the groovement:
How are you feeling?
Gaidaa: I have no idea. I feel good, actually. It was a really fun show. Everyone was really…present. I don’t know how else to describe it. I feel grateful. I feel good.
Just to expand on that, this is your first headline tour, and you spoke during the concert reflecting on past moments in New York, both around touring with Saba and other artists. So how does it feel to really claim this space, headline your own show, and have fans showing up for you?
Gaidaa: It doesn’t feel real. I swear to God, it doesn’t feel real. Cause I think I’m actually literally still in denial. This is the second show now of this tour, and for every show, I’ve just been like, well, I hope somebody shows up, especially with the pandemic and everything.
This is the first time I get to see the faces to the numbers (streams), really and truly, you know what I mean? So I don’t know, I never had an image in my head of what that looks like. So it’s just very surreal and very, like, heartwarming. I could cry even just talking about it. It’s just very insane to me that people really show you love.
We also think about how your emotions were reciprocated by the audience. That opening narration before you walked on stage authentically showed how you were at the time, how you’re feeling, and rawly showed where you’re at right now. And that, as an audience member, helps you feel present.
Gaidaa: I mean for me, I released the project in, what, 2020? And it’s just been a rough couple of years for most people, but I can only speak for myself. I just know I wasn’t doing the best mentally. So I feel like it’s been a long time coming, but I almost was scared to have any expectations. Even until the last minute, I was like, everything could fall through. You just never know. You know what the pandemic did to us. Like, bruh, you know what I’m saying? So it feels insane that it’s happening, and it’s going well. And there’s just a lot of love, and it just feels like, ‘oh shit! Like I’m allowed to enjoy this now.’
Time for a fun question–The “O.M.G.” cover–what was the thought process, and how did you slay it so hard?
Gaidaa: It’s a very simple thought process. When I first started performing, I didn’t have any songs. At all. I’m shit at knowing any lyrics of any songs. This was one of those songs that I used to just pull up with my guitar and just play random chords. And I would just freestyle the whole set. And “O.M.G.” was just always one of those songs that I would do. And ever since then, I just always love doing it. There’s not like much thought behind it, that was a song I knew some of the lyrics of. I did it in the beginning a lot, and now it’s an ode to my old me sets. Cause sometimes I think about it, I used to just pull up, just no fucking sounds, nothing, and just sing. So the cover is a bit of an ode to me in that era, you know?
Totally, and we feel like everybody has like a specific memory attached to those like 2000-2010 songs. The Black Eyed Peas bring flashbacks.
Gaidaa: Yeah, shout out to them.
We also really appreciated your song, “Morning Blue.” It was very powerful with all the lights off.
Gaidaa: I was just happy that people actually put their lights up and kept them up. Bless this crowd!
We felt very grounded by that song, and we also think a lot of crazy shit is happening right now. So taking a moment, and especially when you commanded us to put our lights up, to acknowledge that was very powerful.
Gaidaa: So, I’m not political. I feel like I’m gonna be political just in my existence to some people, you know what I’m saying? I don’t think it’s wrong to be political, I don’t wanna say the wrong thing, I don’t wanna offend people, and I know that you shouldn’t really necessarily care about that stuff. I know how to sing, and I know how to talk through that, you know? Maybe they can understand me through the song more than words?
What was your favorite song to perform tonight?
Gaidaa: I really love performing the new songs, honestly. I love performing the new songs especially, because of the pandemic, I’ve been performing this project for a minute now in different contexts, mainly like in the Netherlands and whatnot, but like it feels really fun to perform new stuff, like Something True, which just came out. This shit is hard as fuck to sing, I can’t even lie! I’ll be struggling every time, because it’s still not really in my system.
Your voice is incredible.
Gaidaa: When I’m be struggling, in my head I’m like, ‘yo, prayers every time, God be on my side.’ But the new songs, I really love coming to new songs, Something True, Rolling, and Transit. I love performing Figures. It’s always a lot of fun to perform. Morning Blues is always special to perform, I’ll always enjoy that. But sometimes, I’ve had times where I just start crying. So it’s not always necessarily a fun song to go to perform. It’s emotionally strong.
So, how many more tour stops do you have left? How has the tour been so far, and what are you excited about?
Gaidaa: We have stops in Toronto, Chicago, and a university show in Wisconsin. It’s been good so far. I’m literally doing this with my best friends. So, I’m just really lucky, honestly. I’m definitely in debt after this tour, bro. Like, yo, when a tour is your first headline tour, whoever it is, your first tour is about to put you in poverty.
Going to the merch line as we speak right now.
Gaidaa: I wish I had merch with me this time. Next time though, I’m going to come with all the merch.
Absolutely. Well, we’ll tell our community to support.
Gaidaa: Please do. And yesterday or the day before, I released like my latest single. I performed it today as well, Something True. So if people wanna listen to that….feel free.
Is there another album on the way?
Gaidaa: Yes, I’m definitely working on my second project now which includes some of the songs I performed today.
You talked a little bit about New York, memories here, and how you wrote a song in New York. What does New York mean to you?
Gaidaa: This is my third time in New York. Every single time, it’s been a different context. Me as a young kid, I romanticized the shit outta New York. I was like, this is where I wanna be. New York was this huge thing. The first time I went, I was with my mom, and I was like, ‘okay, next time I’m here, I’m just gonna perform music.’ Next time I came, and I met my manager and stuff. Now, the third time, I’m here for my own headline show. So New York is just this reflection of my evolution, and it means so much to me. It means so much that this happened here as well. It’s just insane.
Okay, last question: We don’t want to make you emotional, but we noticed that, you pretty instantly saw some of your friends in the crowd. How did it feel to have so many of your supporters and chosen family with you at the show?
Gaidaa: There was a girl somewhere who, the last time I saw her, was when I was nine. We just stayed in contact and follow each other. There are so many friends I saw in the crowd from everywhere, like everywhere. Kama, who was literally there when I was recording Falling Higher, this guy Patrick, who used to go to school with me, and I was like, ‘what the fuck?’ And obviously my best friends are here already. It was a combination of different people I love genuinely, who came here here to support me. Today really meant everything. It just meant everything to me.
Yeah, and it’s a good omen. This tour is going to be amazing. Thank you so much, Gaidaa.
Gaidaa: Thank you!
📸: shot by Abbi Abbraham