Carrying The Torch of Black Girl Magic: A Conversation with Sagèlee

Photos by Seerlee Archer & Hailey Voorand

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Special Edition 2022 – I Belong

Sagélee is a Canadian artist from Toronto, Ontario, who has embodied every side of being a musician. In addition to being a multi-instrumentalist, Sagélee is a vocalist and singer-songwriter. Sagélee’s musical diversity is endless in sound, vibe, and expression as a well-rounded artist. With over 50k streams on her single “Negligent,” Sagèlee continues to make big waves in the chill R&B scene. 

What is your name and what are your pronouns, and where are you from? What instrument(s) do you play?
My name is Sagèlee (she/her). I am from Toronto (GTA, really), but I was born in Mississauga. I consider the whole city my home, especially since I’ve spent much of my life between Scarborough and Sauga. My primary instrument is the guitar, but I also tend to play a lot of bass and keys when I produce. 

How long have you played, and when did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
I started playing piano around nine but stopped because my mom made me take French lessons. I found the classes boring. Around 12, I started guitar lessons. Music became my favorite. It opened up the next chapter. 

Being a musician comes with many positives and negatives. In your experience, what is the best part about being a musician?
You know, music has always helped me tell my own story on my timeline. Writing lyrics allowed me to express myself when I most felt at a loss for words. There’s something beautiful about being able to play your memories back to you, to look back on your lessons, struggles, and triumphs. 

Music is a powerful tool that tells stories and serves as a universal language. Black culture has informed the foundation of many genres of music and movements to this day. What do you think of when you hear “Black History”?
Two things: One is my family; when I begin to think of all the hard work they put into building a solid foundation. Two is being part of the diaspora. As a person of Caribbean descent, it’s sometimes hard for me to connect to the history that is often spoken.

Is there a specific Black creative that inspires you? Why?
Prince, because of his creative process. His need to authentically remain himself at all times constantly reminds me of the type of artist I aspire to be. 

Why do you think it is essential to pay homage to the Black creatives that came before us? Why do you think the world needs to learn about our Black history?
You can learn a lesson from people’s successes and failures. As Black people, we’re sometimes taught to dim our lights to blend with systems that aren’t always created for us to thrive. Learning from our ancestors is a way to bridge the gap between what we envision for ourselves and the tools at our disposal, making it possible to achieve those goals.

What are your current studio and live performance setups?
For my home studio, I use JBL 5’s and HS80s that serve as monitors. I connect them to an Audient Nero monitor control, which goes to my Babyface Pro interface. Microphones are Miktek CV4 for vocals and a Shure SM57 that runs to my Fender Vibro champ amp. My piano is Yamaha MODX61. 

I use a Godin Session HT and a blonde Fender Telecaster for my main guitars. On my pedalboard, I use Voodoo Lab’s power source, and the rest is as follows: 

  • Tuner: Polytune
  • Compressor: SP Compressor 
  • Overdrive: Full-Drive 2, BOSS SD-1, and a Wampler Pantheon (Overdrive) 
  • Delay: MXR Carbon Copy
  • Reverb: Neunaber Immerse 
  • Looper: Ditto Looper X2

What does it mean to be a Black creative to you? What do you want your voice to contribute to the industry?
It means embracing what makes me different. As a Black person, I’ve stood out a lot, which means acknowledging that people will see me, and it’s up to me to paint the narrative. I want my voice to remind people that it’s okay to feel. Emotions are meant to be felt, and life is meant to be shared. As I continue to learn from life, I hope others can find something to identify with as they embark on their own journey of self-discovery. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your eight-year-old self looking up to the adult version of you?
Practice the routine of self-love. I spent a lot of time hating myself growing up, so I’d want to tell her to actively choose herself so that she doesn’t let the world paint her picture.