Worthy Wednesday: Nneka

As an artist and an independent woman trying to build a company I have to wear many hats, and juggle many jobs. One of those jobs happens to be working at one of the best performance venues in the New York City. Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater has welcomed artists such as Alicia Keys, Adele, and Janelle Monae to name a few. Last Thursday we had a double sold out show featuring the Nigerian Artist Nneka. Walking in and out of the room during sound check I was more than impressed to hear this big sound coming out of this soft-spoken, petite, and funny woman. I talked with her manager for a bit, and found myself feeling  “out of the loop” and not hip to the emerging music game, because I had never heard of Nneka before. At the end of the night, while cleaning up backstage, watching transplants from Nigeria coming up to Nneka talking to her about their own struggles and how her music has inspired them. I watching how humble and engaged she was in their conversations, I was more than impressed with this “young” artist. After we were done cleaning the backstage I found her manager once again to purchase her latest album, and have continued to grow impressed with her.

Born and raised in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria, Nneka Egbuna watched as the city and its citizens wrestled with the impact of new-found affluence. Three decades later, electrical blackouts are still a part of daily life in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation plagued by petrol shortages, where tribalism and disparity of wealth and political power further entrench divisions of class. “All that has a lot to do with why I am the way I am, despite the fact that I have now been able to travel a great deal, and see the world from a different angle.” Written and recorded throughout the three-year period following the release of No Longer At Ease, the fifteen selections on “Soul Is Heavy” were culled from a backlog of roughly fifty songs, many of which Nneka composed while back in Nigeria (even as the power went on and off in her Lagos apartment). They integrate myriad musical styles: reggae, hip-hop, modern R&B and vintage soul, Afrobeat, and even elements of flamenco and Sahara desert blues. They range from the driving opener, “Lucifer (No Doubt),” to the sweet and peaceful “Shining Star,” and from the furious “Camouflage” to desolate, introspective cuts such as “Valley.” All are unmistakably Nneka. -Courtesy of Joe’s Pub

This weeks Worthy Wednesday is a worthy listen. Her website is currently under construction but, she is all over YouTube and you can also find her on facebook and myspace. If you are one of the handful of people out there that have not heard of Nneka, take a listen.

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