(Something Inside) So Strong

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"(Something Inside) So Strong"
Something Inside So Strong - Labi Siffre.jpeg
Single by Labi Siffre
from the album So Strong
B-side"I'm Alright"
ReleasedFebruary 1987
GenreR&B, gospel
Songwriter(s)Labi Siffre
Producer(s)Glyn Johns
Labi Siffre singles chronology
"(Something Inside) So Strong"
"Nothin's Gonna Change"

"(Something Inside) So Strong" is a song written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Labi Siffre. Released as a single in 1987, it was one of the biggest successes of his career, peaking at number four on the UK Singles Chart.[1]

The song was written in 1984, inspired by a television documentary on Apartheid South Africa seen by Siffre in which white soldiers were filmed shooting at black civilians in the street.[2] He told the BBC's Soul Music programme in 2014 that the song was also influenced by his experience as a homosexual child, adolescent, and adult.[3] Siffre originally intended to give the song to another artist to sing, but could find no one suitable and was convinced to release it himself.[2]

The song has remained enduringly popular and is an example of the political and sociological thread running through much of Siffre's lyrics and poetry. It won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically, and has been used in Amnesty International campaigns, a television advertisement and Alice Walker's film against female genital mutilation: Warrior Marks.


Chart (1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[4] 76
Ireland (Irish Singles Chart)[5] 2
Netherlands (Nederlandse Top 40) 3
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 4

The Rosa Parks Tribute Singers version[edit]

In 1995, Verity Records released Verity Records Presents: A Tribute to Mrs. Rosa Parks. A cover version performed by a chorus of gospel singers, including Fred Hammond (who produced the track), Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, Daryl Coley and Vanessa Bell Armstrong, was the first track.

Rik Waller version[edit]

Pop Idol contestant Rik Waller reached #25 in the UK Single Chart with a cover version in July 2002.[6]

Barry from EastEnders version[edit]

A 2014 rendition of "(Something Inside) So Strong" by the British actor Shaun Williamson (aka Barry from EastEnders) was performed live at the 2014 World Indoor Bowls Championship,[7][8]

After being televised live nationally, it became a popular meme and was notably mashed up in video form with two successive U.S. presidential inauguration ceremonies.[9][10][11][12][13]


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 498. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b Mathur, Paul (August 1989). "So Strong". Spin: 32. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 2015-05-23.
  3. ^ "Soul Music, Series 18, Something Inside So Strong". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 21 September 2015. Labi Siffre wrote Something Inside So Strong in 1984. Widely believed to have been inspired by seeing film footage from South Africa, of young blacks being shot at by white policeman, he now reveals that the lyrics were also informed by the oppression he had experienced as a homosexual.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 273. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know - Labi Siffre". IRMA. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Official Charts - Rik Waller: Something Inside (So Strong)". OfficialCharts.com.
  7. ^ "Shaun Williamson sings at the World Indoor Bowls". BBC Sport. 27 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Shaun Williamson, Barry From Eastenders, Sings At World Indoor Bowls (PICTURES)". Huffington Post UK. 27 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Wait, Barry from Eastenders sang at Donald Trump's inauguration?". Cosmopolitan UK. 21 January 2017., 2017
  10. ^ "Someone Mashed Up Joe Biden's Inauguration With Footage Of Barry From EastEnders Singing, And Honestly, We're Howling". Huffington Post UK. 21 January 2021.
  11. ^ Setchell, Rob (22 January 2021). "Barry from Eastenders stunned as Norfolk bowls ballad becomes inauguration hoax". ITV News.
  12. ^ "Someone has edited footage of Joe Biden's inauguration with Barry from EastEnders singing". Virgin Radio UK.
  13. ^ "Internet convinced Barry from EastEnders performed at Joe Biden's inauguration after viral hoax". Daily Mirror. 21 January 2021.