Afro-folk soulful singer-songwriter: Naomi Wachira is on a mission to change the world through her music. Naomi's sweet voice allows you to feel relaxed but this does not take away from the seriousness of the subject matter in her songs. She describes her latest album "Song of Lament" as a project which ‘was born out the many tragic losses we’ve witnessed globally". We had a chance to talk to Naomi about the deeper meaning behind her music and why it is worth listening to.
You describe yourself as: “…an African girl…” who knows “…where I’m coming from, and I know who I want to be…” - explain to us what you mean by that.
It's crazy because a few months ago, I really came to understand the meaning of these words, even though I wrote them 7 years ago. In writing about where I'm coming from, I was referencing the location of where I was born and the culture and heritage of my people. But now I also see it's about this journey I've been on that is about discovering myself and I can look back and see just how far I've come. On who I want to be, I honestly didn't know for sure what I wanted - but I knew that I wanted to pursue music. And now I have clarity that it's not just about music, but also of creating music that is expansive, breathable and creates a space where anyone can feel safe, inspired and empowered to be who they were meant to be.
You were originally born in Kenya, but are now based in the US (Seattle) - have the sounds of both countries influences your sound in any way?
The influence of these two places I call home have been in very general, broad strokes kind of way. They've given me different genres that I could build my work on. I think listening to some of the Kenyan bands from when I was a child and then being introduced to the works of a woman like Tracy Chapman gave me inspiration to marry those influences and create what I call Afro-Folk.
In your single: Beautifully Human, you sing a line: “Don’t treat us like we are a cursed race” - why do you think it is important that your music has a message of outspoken defiance?
I believe that every human being with a good head on their shoulders, who has a sense of consciousness would be outspoken about any aspect of humanity that threatens the dignity of any human being. In a day and age where we see fear of the 'other' becoming the norm, it is vital to stand up and say, 'but those people are just like the rest of us.' Just because someone has different religious beliefs, has a different skin colour doesn't mean they are less dignified or should be treated in a less dignified way. I believe that this message is vital for sustaining the goodness in humanity.
You are preparing for the release of your new album: Song of Lament. Why does the world need to hear this project?
I believe that this is an album that will remind us of our shared humanity. Even though I tell stories of heartache, violence, death or the loss of life, I tie in the message of hope that this is not how the stories have to end. And we have hope when we learn to empathise, be mindful, show kindness and never giving up on life or chasing our dreams that can bring more light into the world.
Do you have any favourites from the album?
This is always a tough question because every song I write tells a very specific experience I've witnessed or gone through and as such is very much a part of who I am. But if I were to pick favourites, it would have to be Beautifully Human, Heart of a Man and Run, Run, Run.
And finally, what does success mean to you?
Success means that I'm able to provide for my daughter and I by doing what fills me with pure joy. It also means having a long term career, that way into my sunset years, I'll still be performing, and writing good music. And finally, it would be lovely to win a Grammy or two!
A huge thanks to Naomi for taking the time to speak to us. Check out her socials below and stream her latest album: Songs of Lament on Spotify now.