This July, Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra released her third album, “Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies.” With its blend of introspective R&B and 90’s inspired soul, it’s drawn rave reviews across the board. It’s not surprising: since breaking onto the scene in 2014, Aalegra’s career has gone from strength to strength. She’s collaborated with everyone from Drake to the Neptunes, been mentored by Prince, and developed a long-standing association with Kanye West’s producer, No ID. Find out more as we reveal 10 things you didn’t know about Snoh Aalegra.
1. Music was her escape
Gowing up in Sweden, Aalegra’s school life wasn’t a happy time. As the only person of color in her class, she became the target for racist bullying. Her confidence took a beating, but there was always one thing she could escape to – music. Speaking to papermag.com, she explained how music provided her with an identity in a way nothing else did. Ironically, her determination to build a career as a singer only served to fan the flames of the bullying. “I was determined and I had no fear when it came to music,” she says. “I was kind of vocal about it, too, telling people I want to be a singer when I grow up and the people that bullied me would be like “No, you’re not going to be anything.”
2. She’s been working since she was 13
Aalegra is nothing if not a fast worker. She fell in love with music at the of 7 after hearing the soundtrack to Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard”, began writing music at the age of nine, and signed an artist development deal with Sony Music Sweden at the age of 13. Although she spent most of her weekends working with producers on her sound and voice, she ultimately left the label before releasing any music. Even so, she still credits it as a great experience, revealing she was “glad I had the opportunity to be exposed to the industry at a young age,” during a profile with Interview Magazine.
3. She’s not a big drinker
Speaking to Celebrity, Aalegra reveals she’s not a party animal. To protect her voice, she tries to stick to non-alcoholic drinks only. When she does decide to let her hair down, she prefers “Moscow mule margaritas, with salt on the rim.”
4. She’s a huge Elton John fan
Aalegra is a huge Elton John fan, citing the time he played one of her songs on his Apple music radio show as one of her proudest moments. Other than Elton, she’s fangirled over everyone from Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackon to Daniel Caeser and Whitney Houston. Lauren Hill was also a huge influence on how her songwriting evolved during her early years, as she explained to gal-dem.com: “Lauryn Hill made me pay a lot of attention to my writing,” she said. “I feel like her album is still so relevant to me so I’m inspired by my own life and the music I listen to. All my lyrics are real life, everything is a true story.”
5. She’s worked with major artists
When Aalegra’s not being inspired by some of the biggest names in the industry, she’s working with them. Just a few of the major artists she’s worked with so far include No I.D., Vince Staples, James Fauntleroy, and Common. In 2017, Drake sampled her song “Time” on his single “More Life.” John Mayer can be heard on guitar on the track “Under the Influence” from her 2016 EP “Don’t Explain” and she’s toured in support of Canadian artist Daniel Caesar.
6. She’s been linked to Michael B. Jordon
In 2019, Aalegra invited Michael B. Jordon (who’d she’d known for some time and who’d made no secret of being a fan of her sultry vocals) to star alongside her on the video to her single “Whoa.” He agreed, and the resulting chemistry between the two of them was enough to send the gossip rags into a flurry of speculation about whether they were getting as steamy off camera as they were on. Neither of them confirmed the relationship, but considering he’s been dating model Lori Harvey since November 2020, whatever romance there might have been has long since fizzled out.
7. Snoh Aalegra isn’t her real name
Aalegra was born Shahrzad Fooladi. She released her first album, “First Sign,” under the name Sheri before adopting the stage name Snoh Aalegra in 2014. She decided on “Aalegra” because it translates (albeit using a slightly different spelling) to ‘joyful’ in Italian. But it gets even more complicated – while “Aalegra” is her professional name, she changed her legal name in 2015 to Snoh Nowrozi.
8. Prince was an early supporter of her work
Aalegra has been a fan of Prince since childhood, but as it turns out, he was a fan of hers too. In 2014, he reached out to her after discovering her music. She became his protegee, and he continued to champion her music until his death in 2016. She explained how he encouraged her to always stay true to herself. “He told me ‘Never change,’ that he thought I was an important artist and that I need to carry the torch when he’s not around anymore, which is words that I still can’t believe he said to me,” she said. “When I met him, I had honey brown-blonde hair. He was like, ‘Go back to your dark hair. Just be yourself.’ I instantly colored my hair dark.”
9. She’s been nominated for 2 Grammis
Since releasing her debut album in 2014, Aalegra has collected countless awards and nominations, including two Grammis (the Swedish equivalent of the Grammys) for Album of the Year and Artist of the Year in 2020. That same year, she also won a Soul Train Music Award for Best New Artist and just missed out on the Hip Hop / R&B of the Year Award at the P3 Guld.
10. She speaks three languages
Aalegra, who now lives in LA after a brief stint in London, is something of a linguist. Growing up, she spoke Swedish and Farsi as her first languages, later learning English through TV and school.