One of those rare talents who seem to have sprung full grown, Nefe is a singer-songwriter of the confident, coffee-house kind. Born Sarah Jean Felker and hailing from Guelph, Ont., Nefe shows a fondness for reggae and earnest balladry that doesn't disagree with her inclination for empowering lyrics. And when, on the song Minute, she sings, "You've never met a woman like me," it's hard not to compare her with a Tracy Chapman or a Serena Ryder.
That said, Nefe, signed to Universal Canada, has a strong sense of self, as heard on Skin, off her just-out EP, Mama. "I got a smile, and I got style," she croons, making a case that is instantly self-evident, "and I'm cool, hmmn."
She's that, which is enough for a start. But moxie and a fast car will only take one so far. Two years ago, Nefe won the RBC Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Prize. Now she's emerged. We're watching the second step.
Nefe plays Field Trip, June 4; TD Ottawa Jazz, July 1; Festival d'Été de Québec, Quebec City, July 10; Hillside Festival, Guelph, Ont., July 14 to 16.