Meaning of “(Something Inside) So Strong” by Labi Siffre

“(Something Inside) So Strong” is a protest song by renowned British singer and songwriter Labi Siffre. The lyrics of the song, which were written in 1984, were inspired by a very unpleasant clip from a documentary on Apartheid South Africa that Siffre watched on television. The clip in question showed a white soldier shooting indiscriminately at a group of black unarmed South African children.

Prior to watching the heinous scene in the Apartheid clip, Siffre had long retired from the music industry, but the sheer brutality he witnessed in the clip forced him to come out of his retirement and pen this protest song to strongly oppose the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

In a 2014 interview on the Soul Music show on BBC, Siffre said in addition to the song being inspired by the brutality of apartheid, the song was also influenced by the challenges he faced in life due to his homosexuality. And yes, Siffre is openly gay!

Lyrics of Something Inside So Strong by Labi Siffre

Facts about “(Something Inside) So Strong”

  • (Something Inside) So Strong was written by Labi Siffre whereas its production was handled by renowned English musician and record producer Glyn Johns.
  • Upon writing the song, Siffre had no intentions of releasing it himself. He searched for a while for another artist to release the song. However, this proved futile, so he was therefore forced to record it himself and release it.
  • The song was eventually released in February 1987.
  • “(Something Inside) So Strong” is considered one of the most famous protest songs of all time.
  • On the UK Singles Chart, the song made it to the number four position, making it one of the most successful singles of Siffre’s entire career.
  • The nongovernmental organization Amnesty International has used this song in numerous campaigns on human rights issues.
  • The song was used in the 1993 award-winning documentary Warrior Marks by Kenyan-born British filmmaker Pratibha Parmar and Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer and activist Alice Walker.


Has “(Something Inside) So Strong” won a Grammy Award so far?

No. Despite not winning a Grammy, the song has over the years won a number of very famous music awards, most notably the prestigious Ivor Novello Award.

Which artists have covered “(Something Inside) So Strong”?

Since the song came out in 1987, numerous artists have covered it. One of the most notable and most successful covers was by American country singer Kenny Rogers in 1989. Other very notable covers of the song are by English actor and singer Michael Ball in 1996 and English Pop singer Rik Waller in 2002. Waller’s version peaked at number 25 in the UK Singles Chart whereas Ball’s version peaked at number 40 in the same chart.



7 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    An absolute classic song massacared by the halfwits Rik Waller (with a silent “p” & Michael “Full of himself ” ball.

  2. Anonymous says:

    ONLY THE oppressed has the RIGHT to sing this song

  3. Nana Ama Enyamah says:

    We face soo many challenges in life and this song dares any hindrance before us that indeed! we can make it. It isn’t an oppressor’s song no, instead the will to attain and achieve greater heights.

  4. Anonymous says:

    One of the greatest songs of all time but it’s a shame it came from something so despicable. They should make Putin listen to it as it’s just as powerful now as it was then, but does a madman have any morals

  5. Robin Brown says:

    This song always brings a tear to my eye.It’s hope and wisdom is a message to us all and I feel humbled by it every time I hear it .It would be my first choice on a desert Island.

  6. Yvonne Reid says:

    Such a beautiful but very sad song.

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