Sanna Singhateh, most commonly known by his stage name “ST”, has been quickly positioning himself as one of the Gambia’s most popular and innovative young musicians. Following his historic “Saluto” concert at Independence Stadium in December 2018, Singhateh has been strategically solidifying his place in Gambia’s music industry.
Born without a silver spoon in his mouth, the Brikama-based Afro Manding singer grew up in a typical Gambian family both his mother and father were school headmistress and headmaster respectively. ST’s mother raised him and many other kids to believe in the power of education. “My mother grew up in the rural areas where skills and education weren’t seen as stepping stones to growth and development. But she taught us differently,” he tells The Chronicle.
ST’s father died when he was very young and he can barely remember his face. His mum had to raise seven kids, six boys and one girl on her own. At an early age, he learned about responsibility by selling “ice blocks” on the road just to make a little money for the family’s needs.
“The house chores were divided between the seven of us because we didn’t have a maid.”
When ST first decided to take up music as a career, his mother was not in support of it. She wanted him to pursue his education and get a degree. “At the beginning of my music career , I used to rap and hide because she was strict”. Stuck between two worlds, ST chose to focus on both education and his passion for singing and rapping.
However, Singhateh’s mother quickly came to discover her son’s bubbling career in music. The song ‘Musu koyo’ (light-skinned woman in Mandinka) was the first song of his that his mother listened to. Whilst attending her weekly kafo (a local mothers group), she came to realize that the song her friends’ constantly sang and talked was none other than her son’s. A “game changer” for ST as his mum finally began to accept his choice of career.
ST went on to dedicate his song Na (Mother) to his mother. In the song, he hailed his mother for raising seven kids as a single mother and educating them.
Over the years, ST has been given a lot of names by fans. The popular ones among them are Brikama Boyo, Saluto and Respecto. Though he found some of these names funny, he appreciates the love from the fans.
ST’s lyrics and style is undeniably unique to him, something he relates to his upbringing. “I am a product of my environment and I am very proud of where I come from.”
With all his growing success, ST plans to give back to his community in a productive way through his music. Today, he publicly talks about issues affecting children to raise awareness about their plight. “I know music can be used as an educational tool and entertainment as well. This is why I talk about realistic version of what is going on in the society through my music.”
Last month, ST launched the ST Foundation for Community Development to give back to the community. The foundation is working towards supporting education and healthcare facilities in under privilaged communities. “I want to be remembered as a motivator, a developer and a change maker.”