By Sophie Sadler
After a successful musical career in France where Wesley Seme achieved fame by reaching the final of The Voice, he decided he needed a break from the limelight and discovered the Algarve, where he now lives. I caught up with him to find out about his gospel choir and reveal his next exciting challenge.
Born in Martinique, Wesley grew up singing in his church choir, but it was only after moving to Paris to continue his studies in International Business, that he discovered his talent.
“I started to do jamming sessions and was asked to perform gigs, from then on it became my career. I have done backing vocals, taught master classes and directed mass choirs of 200 people.”
As well as exploring jazz and soul influences, his background in gospel led his to a highlight of his career, when he performed in a concert in Italy on an airport runway in front of a crowd of over 600,000 people, standing just metres away from the Pope.
He counts his musical heroes as Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross and like his idols, he has performed on huge stages such as the Bercy Stadium in Paris and has provided backing vocals to Belgian star Viktor Lazlo. He remains true to gospel though and has worked with big American stars such as Kirk Dewayne Franklin, directing the choir when he visited France.
Now 37, he came to Monchique to perform and discovered the region and love! He met Swiss-born Leila who had just returned to Portugal from acting school in Hollywood. As she had Tunisian heritage she found she was natural belly-dancer and was performing at the same event as Wesley.
“I felt the fame I achieved from The Voice in France, fake and heavy. I wanted some peace of mind and rest, to live a quieter life and find myself,” Wesley tells me.
They set up home in Lagos, but Wesley travels all over Europe to perform and has sung in many different languages. In order to give something back to the music which he first fell in love with, he has acquired premises in the centre of the old town of Lagos called Weslei’s, “Wes” for Wesley and “Lei” for Leila, where every Sunday from 4.00 – 5.30pm his 30-strong gospel choir meet. The choir is open to new members and Wesley tells me you do not need to have a particular kind of voice, just be able to sing.
If you are not a singer but appreciate live music, on Thursdays from 6pm until 8pm, he holds Dancing with Wesley, anyone can come and listen to Wesley sing, although he asks that people notify him in advance that they are coming.
Leila also sings in the gospel choir and they have two new members, their adorable son 10-month-old Zildjian and his new sister who is to be born in November. Wesley tells me there will be a big baby shower for Leila with the choir.
The exciting news does not stop there! Wesley announced to Tomorrow magazine, that he has just auditioned for The Voice, Portugal. “I want to tell people in Portugal that I am here and of course I would love to pursue a solo career”. His audition will be airing in October and we, of course, will keep you updated.
Weslei`s, 23 Rua Canal, Lagos Centre
+351 924 051 220