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Sampa The Great announced as first act for Vivid LIVE 2021

Sydney – Tuesday 11 May 2021. The Sydney Opera House today announced that Zambian rapper and songwriter Sampa The Great will electrify audiences in the Joan Sutherland Theatre on Sunday 8 August for the return of Vivid LIVE, part of Vivid Sydney, the festival transforming the Sydney CBD each winter through a celebration of creativity and innovation.

Vivid LIVE returns to the Opera House from 6 – 28 August, inviting uncompromising voices to the nation’s most famous stages in a contemporary music takeover. In 2021, the line-up will celebrate iconic and original artists with international resonance, emerging Australian voices, and performances by Sydney’s vibrant local communities who reflect the city’s inimitable contemporary culture.

In this Australian exclusive performance for Vivid LIVE, Sampa Tembo – better known as Sampa The Great – will debut her long-awaited new show An Afro Future, performing the four-time ARIA award-winning debut album The Return with her epic band, dancers and singers.

Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Music and Vivid LIVE Curator, Ben Marshall says: “I’m honoured Sampa The Great is returning from Zambia, choosing Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House to realise her majestic and ambitious live performance spectacle, An Afro Future. Sampa Tembo’s triumphant artistic arc makes her one of the most exciting creative voices of her generation, with her dazzling and inventive explorations of her musical and cultural heritage, fused with the explosive energy of the very best parties.

An Afro Future perfectly embodies the spirit of Vivid LIVE. In 2021, despite being a different event in these different times, Vivid LIVE will continue to bring the best of Sydney and Australia’s immensely talented, multi-faceted musical communities together as we throw a giant, open-to-all defiant celebration in the heart of our incredible city. Sampa The Great is coming back  –  it’s time to breathe and dance again and I cannot wait to share the rest of this year’s Vivid LIVE program with you.”

Released in 2019, on iconic label Ninja Tune, The Return received critical acclaim as a deeply powerful yet personal album about identity, home and displacement, blending hip-hop, neo-soul, gospel, afrobeat and jazz. NPR described the album as “a portal into the psyche of an African artist who has traveled the world in search of herself”, while Hypebeast certified the breakout record as “nothing short of an enlightening journey….one of the most intriguing debut albums in recent memory.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says: “Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House is one of the most-loved aspects of the Vivid Sydney program and no doubt this world premiere performance by Sampa The Great will ensure that contemporary music fans flock to the iconic venue once again in 2021. Vivid Sydney is a fantastic platform where all genres of music, a wide-range of artists and all ideas and discussions merge providing an exciting, and sometimes unexpected, experience for visitors and locals enjoying the event.”

Born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, Sampa relocated to Australia for a few years where she quickly cemented herself as one of the brightest rising stars. Her 2015 debut release The Great Mixtape signalled a new era of hip-hop and contributed to the representation of the genre’s true multiculturalism. The release was followed by the 2017 mixtape Birds and The BEE9 which included standout tracks “Black Girl Magik” and “Rhymes to the East”. The release led Sampa to receive the 2017 Australian Music Prize for “Best Album”. In 2020, she made history when The Return won the award’s “Best Album”, making her the first artist to win the prestigious award twice. In her rapid ascent, Sampa has toured globally, supported legendary acts such as Ms Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar, played international festival Glastonbury and been invited to play Coachella. In the past year, she returned to Zambia where she continued to make new music, collaborated with The AvalanchesDenzel CurryJunglepussy and Amber Mark, and was even highlighted by Michelle Obama on her personal 2020 music playlist.

The announcement of Sampa The Great’s exclusive Vivid LIVE performance follows sold-out exclusive performances by world-class artists including The Cure – Disintegration 30th Anniversary (2019), Solange (2018), An Evening with Morrissey (2015), the Pixies (2014) and Kraftwerk’s The Catalogue in 3D (2013).

The full program for Vivid LIVE 2021 at the Sydney Opera House will be announced soon.



For media information, please contact:

Ying-Di Yin
Vivid LIVE Communications Manager 
0432 159 645