Aglaé Aletta explores passion for performing in North Alabama

Mary-Stella Mangina, Arts & Entertainment Editor

As 2022 starts to wrap up, the Shoals continues its legacy as a solid starting point for young musicians. 

Aglaé Aletta, an international student at the University of North Alabama, is one of Florence’s up-and-coming creators. Aletta is from Burundi, a small multicultural country in East Africa. She grew up amid people who encourage self-expression through music.

Dance is a major part of Burundian culture. According to Aletta, the people of her native country frequently play percussion-heavy songs with upbeat tempos. While Aletta’s songs tend to have relatively slow and smooth melodies, the influence of her homeland’s rhythmic music is apparent in her work. Aletta enjoys dancing. Her original music is undeniably something one could dance to, yet its bluesy overtones are tough to ignore. She is a mostly self-taught chanteuse, though she was encouraged by her mother, who also sings.

“She was all I needed for motivation,” Aletta said of her mom. “She supported me because she was also a singer, and she understood why creativity was important to me.” 

On her biggest sources of inspiration, she said, “I love love. Anything love related, anything heartfelt or romantic, that’s what I sing about. I’m an emotional person, so it’s good to have songwriting as an outlet.”

A native French speaker, Aletta produces musical output that is multilingual. As a result of extensive studying preceding her move to North America, she speaks English fluently.

Burundi, where Aletta was raised, is a largely Roman Catholic country. The singer-songwriter is a practicing Catholic. When she started singing, she primarily did so at mass, with a church choir.

“I started singing when I was 10. Somehow, I just knew it was what I wanted to do. Most of the singers I knew as a child started as choir members, so I thought, ‘I want to join a choir. That way, when I’m famous, I can tell people I started as a choir member, too,’” Aletta said.

Aletta’s love of singing propelled her to fame rapidly. She released her first song at 14, and by 17, she was playing paid gigs with bands. While completing her undergraduate degree, which she received in Kenya, she made a name for herself as an artist. Beyond singing, she served as a model. In 2021, she sang at the Marahaba Music Expo, an international music stage that invites performers from across Africa to present every two years. 

In Florence, Aletta has had trouble finding a Catholic church choir that resembles that of her home. She attends mass virtually, tuning in weekly to an online service. She may not sing with a choir, but over the course of the last several months, Aletta has seen significant success on the local music scene. On Nov. 3, she appeared at Downtown Florence’s 1 Table celebration, a community-wide lunch accompanied by live music. The following day, at this month’s First Fridays, she performed to an enthusiastic young crowd on the Mobile Street MainStage.

Having received the majority of her education in Kenya, Aletta is working toward a master’s degree at UNA. In venturing to the United States, she was drawn to Alabama by the university’s College of Business and Technology, a division accredited on a global level by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. As far as school goes, Aletta is an above-average student. Her primary and secondary schooling in Burundi took place under a Belgian school system, while her Kenyan collegiate experience was akin to that which one might have in the United Kingdom. Clearly, Aletta is undaunted by the prospect of change. A little over a year ago, right before she moved to the U.S., she obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Now pursuing a Graduate Certificate in project management, she plans to go into the entertainment industry as an entrepreneur, so she can further her passion for performance on an international scale.

“I want to be a businesswoman and run my own company. I’m going to have a business and still make art. I’ll still sing; I’ll still do what I love to do. I hope to be my own boss,” Aletta said. 

She takes a thoroughly hands-on approach to her craft. To ensure she maintains agency, she studies the process of music production, going so far as to set up a miniature studio in her bedroom.

Although her studies brought her to Florence, the town’s rich musical history helped her develop a fondness for it. North Alabama’s reputation as a music-making nexus in the U.S. came to be in the mid-1900s, with the birth of its major recording studios. Since then, its prowess as a cultural driving force has both grown and developed. Aletta’s talent is celebrated not only on campus at UNA, but also among Florence’s artistic community, who welcome her into their ever-evolving fold with open arms.