Fatherhood, Fame And Finding Music: Adonis Bosso Is On The Journey Of A Lifetime
Having walked runways in Paris, Milan, London and New York, Ivorian model Adonis Bosso is no stranger to the thrill of the spotlight. Still, as the 27-year-old burgeoning singer and songwriter discovered earlier this year, no amount of life experience could ever prepare him for the miracle of fatherhood, or the highs and lows of the music business.
The Press sat down with the new dad to talk about his EP and how parenting is turning into the journey of a lifetime.
When Adonis Bosso describes the day Fenty muse, and fellow model, Slick Woods told him they would be welcoming a child, it sounds straight out of a feel-good Lifetime special. Fresh from a vocal lesson—with his guitar still strapped to his back—Bosso got the life-changing call as he walked down the streets of New York. He was so blown away that he paused in the middle of rush-hour traffic and honking drivers just to properly express his joy—with a whoop of delight, no less.
“Maybe it was just my excitement, but it felt so cinematic!” he shares with a laugh. Although his lengthy modeling career includes campaigns for Balmain, Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and more, he readily admits the accolades pale in comparison to the arrival of son, Saphir.
Saphir’s arrival came amidst a flurry of changes for Bosso, who started pursuing his music dreams in 2016 and has been slowly transitioning to full-time musician status since.
“Going from modeling to music has been a bit difficult,” he confesses. “Honestly, though, it was mainly because of me. So many people have been willing to work with me and give me a chance. But for me, there was a bit of mental blockage at the very beginning. I had to know and learn more about the industry, myself and my sound. I’ve modeled at the highest levels and worked really hard for the respect of my peers, so to come in and start fresh, especially after being so successful with modeling, I felt a little lost.”
“I thought, ‘Here I am, competing with all of these really great artists who have been doing music their whole lives.’ That was the hardest part for me. I had to be able to cope with that knowledge and still believe in myself enough to really go for it. I’m fortunate because my son has only given me more inspiration to pour into my songwriting. There are so many new feelings and emotions that come with being a father, and that’s really helped me be able to write from a more honest perspective.”
Having already released his debut single “Jungle” to glowing reception in 2017, Bosso spent the majority of last year mining his shifting reality for inspiration to write his 2019 EP. That project features songs in English and French. For Bosso, who was born in the Ivory Coast and grew up in one of Montreal’s most multicultural neighborhoods, having both languages represented was enormously important. Bosso also hopes the project will allow others to see who he is outside of modeling, where his stoic expressions offer little insight into a personality he describes as playful and brimming with joy.
“Sometimes people can think I’m unapproachable or mean because of how I’m portrayed in pictures. I rarely smile in any photos, even on social media, but people don’t really understand that you have almost no say in modeling. You’re literally selling a product and it has nothing to do with who you are.”
For instance, his affinity for writing original poetry in French (his native tongue), which he often converts into song lyrics, will undoubtedly be a pleasant surprise to many: At least two of his new songs began as poems. More pressingly, Bosso wants listeners to connect with the themes of compassion, tolerance and the interconnectedness of human experiences.
“I just want people to feel love when they hear my music,” he says. “Everything I do down to the way I communicate and interact with people always comes from a place of love. My message has always been and will always be love. I just want people to feel that when I sing.”
In a time of immense cultural reckoning in which conversations around social justice, compassion and accountability are taking center stage—and furthermore, in a time when activism has essentially been commodified—it’s easy for artists preaching from the gospel of “love” to appear disingenuous, particularly if their lived experiences don’t reflect their sonic mantras. Yet Bosso, who prior to being scouted as a model was pursuing a degree in special care, couldn’t be more genuine.
“The truth is, I’ve always been a sensitive and giving person,” he tells us. “I come from a big family. I’m the oldest of five, and I grew up taking care of my siblings. The whole reason I even became interested in special care is because my younger brother is autistic and we worked with special-care kids in my family’s daycare center. I was particularly good with special-needs kids because I was willing to be patient.”
Over the years, in addition to working to raise awareness about autism, Bosso has also become involved in We Are New Africa (WANA), the nonprofit foundation of his close friend, celebrity stylist Ugo Mozie. The foundation aims to use fashion as a vehicle for social change on the African continent. In April, the duo was joined by Nigerian musician Runtown on a series of visits to some of Nigeria’s most-underserved schools.
“It was such a special experience for all of us,” Bosso shares. “We brought school supplies, clothing and food, but more importantly, we got to hang out with a ton of amazing kids. Moments like that make me think about my son, because having compassion and giving back to our communities, these are all things he will see that I’ve done. More than anything, I want him to be proud of me.”
With a burgeoning musical career, and more nonprofit work in Africa around the corner, it’s safe to say that Adonis Bosso has earned the cool-dad title and will no doubt have a very proud son.