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Seinabo Sey Touches Down In Austin
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Seinabo Sey Touches Down In Austin

Seinabo Sey Touches Down In Austin

Seinabo Sey Touches Down In Austin
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Seinabo Sey performs at The Fader Fort during this year's SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. i

Seinabo Sey performs at The Fader Fort during this year's SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR
Seinabo Sey performs at The Fader Fort during this year's SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.

Seinabo Sey performs at The Fader Fort during this year's SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.

Adam Kissick for NPR

This week in Austin, Texas, Seinabo Sey gave her first performance at South by Southwest. It was an emotional moment for the singer, who told the crowd that if there's one thing she'd like them to learn from her music, it's that "anything is possible. You have to understand: I am from a tiny town on the west coast of Sweden."

Sey grew up in Halmstad, home to about 60,000 people, with a Swedish mother and a Gambian father. The latter, a renowned musician and vocalist, died after a stroke two years ago — but his influence lives on in the work of his daughter, who this year won Sweden's version of a Grammy for best new artist, and last year topped Billboard's Hot Dance Club with the song "Younger."

That song, like all her songs, has English lyrics. She says that's partly a reflection of a conflicted relationship with her home country.

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"I don't feel free there, and that makes you write in a certain way. There's a lot of good things about Sweden of course, but there's a mentality that everyone is supposed to be the same," Sey says. "There's actually a term for it called Jantelagen — there's books written on that topic, and it's everywhere in our society. As well as, there's not a lot of people with my complexion, so I really grew up never seeing myself. I'm not sure I'd be as good a writer if I was somewhere where there weren't as many problems."

All Things Considered caught up with Sey in Austin this week to learn more about her. Hear the rest of the conversation at the audio link.

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