Zia Benjamin is a dynamic talent amongst Jamaica’s contemporary renaissance of female artists. Today, she displays her multi-talented range as a singer, songwriter and filmmaker on the self-directed video for her single “Mr. Neverman.” In the past year, Zia has been working towards her debut EP with a string of singles – “No Fame,” “Mr. Neverman” and “Rudie” – making her mark with her soulful jazz sound, which she dubs “Rum Shop Blues.”
Today, Billboard chats with Zia about her musical journey thus far and premieres the visual for “Mr Neverman.”
Zia describes the concept behind her creation. “The video and song are a love play on ‘Never Never Land’. It showcases a love that never grows old, a place where time stands still. This beautiful fantasy land becomes colorless when the reality hits that the person is not who you thought they were,” she says.
“Mr. Neverman,” produced by the legendary Jamaican selector/DJ RoryStoneLove, has been impressing industry tastemakers since its December 2018 release. DJ Khaled reposted the track on his Instagram giving it praise, and top UK DJs like David Rodigan (BBC), SeaniB (BBC1xtra) and Becca Dudley (MTV/Beats1) have supported the track at their respective radio stations.
Prior to making her solo debut as a singer-songwriter, Christina “Zia” Benjamin has collaborated with Major Lazer on “Jet Blue Jet” (video reached 100 million+ YouTube views) and Sean Paul on “Standing There.” Diplo of Major Lazer was particularly drawn to her “Billie Holiday swag.”
She is a rare type of DIY artist. Singing and songwriting are natural gifts. Yet as a bonafide star with vocal range and charisma to match, Zia is also a major presence behind the scenes directing and producing her own music videos. Both “No Fame” and “Mr. Neverman” loosely interconnect and are a continuation of Zia’s story. The anticipated video for her recently released single “Rudie” will also give more context to “Mr. Neverman” and is part of her cinematic display.
Zia’s musical influences are a cross-cultural patchwork of jazz, neo-soul, pop, and retro-dancehall. The layers in her sound are a reflection of her own identity as a mixed woman born in Jamaica to her father from Dominica and mother from Germany. 2019 is a major turning point not only for Zia but for women as a whole in Jamaica. Her presence shines during the island’s current renaissance of dynamic female talent.