Saturday, 3 July 2010
NNEKA EGBUNA: NIGERIA'S QUEEN OF HIP-SOUL MUSIC.
I don't know how to begin this piece on Nneka Egbuna. I'm lost for words and I must confess that I spent hours researching her online, and wondering whether I've got the right to describe her music and lifestyle. Nneka is indeed beyond description. I'm smitten with the way she sings, raps, talk and answers questions. To me, she is just incredibly talented.
Nneka is from Amawbia in Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria, though she was born and raised in Warri, Delta State. Her mother is German while her father is a full blooded Nigerian. However, Nneka grew up in Nigeria without her biological mother, and instead was taken care of by her step-mum whom she helped in running a local restaurant. Her father was a disciplinarian who did not spare the rod but consistently flogged the young Nneka for any bad behaviour. Nneka's family was not rich and she had to be contented with what she was given. Living in Warri [ A city in the Niger-Delta, Nigeria's oil region ] opened her eyes to the steep poverty and struggle for survival around her. Her Spartan upbringing has influenced her music and lifestyle as an accomplished artiste.
In 2001, Nneka Egbuna left the shores of Nigeria for the first time. It was a journey that she did not choose to make, but which she had to embark on to fulfil her destiny. She arrived in Germany without a knowledge of the German language and her European background. She was taken care of by the German authorities until she got a place of her own. Nneka, a graduate of Anthropology, started singing in her bid to combat loneliness. She found her early years in Germany difficult as she was encountering a new culture and had to come to terms with her identity. In 2005, she started recording with Hip-Hop producers [ Including DJ Farhot, who has really brought out the best in her ] and also performed with a live band. Honestly, I'm really impressed with Nneka's rapid development and ascendancy musically. This is a lady that has been praised by the likes of Lauryn Hill and Nas [ She opened for Nas and Damian Marley on the duo's Distant Relatives Tour ] and has appeared on the David Letterman show in the States.
Nneka's music is a hybrid of Hip-Hop, Funk, Reggae, blues, soul and Jazz with an African touch. Her influences include Nigeria's Afro-Beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti and US rapper Mos Def. She's also inspired by the works of Ken Saro Wiwa, the late Nigerian writer and human rights activist, who was executed by General Sani Abacha's ruling junta in 1995 for his spirited campaign against corruption in the oil rich Niger Delta Region. Her affiliation with Ken Saro Wiwa can be seen in her call for Justice, the recognition of human rights, universal love and peace. Her hard work as a passionate musician has not gone unnoticed. She won the Best African Act at the Music of Black Origin Awards [ MOBO ] held in Britain last year. Her popular song 'Heartbeat' is a favourite of people at UK clubs, with the Chase and Status remix of the track captivating mainstream music lovers.
Nneka is signed on to SONY Europe for her first three albums: Victim of Truth (2003), No Longer At Ease (2005) and Tho and Fro (2009). In order to break into the American market, she was signed by SONY Epic and her fourth album 'Concrete Jungle'( A collection of lovely songs ) was released in the States this year. You need to listen to some of her tracks like 'Love', 'God of Mercy', 'Heartbeat', 'Beautiful' [ This song is really refreshing and brilliantly performed by Nneka ] and 'Kangpe'. Nneka is prolific and there are a lot of her songs out there for your listening pleasure. I find it hard to choose any of her songs as my favourite. As soon as you think you've found one of her songs that you can't do without, another hot track of hers pops up on the web. This goes to show the depth of Nneka's talent. She is currently performing in different parts of Europe and the USA. It should be noted that she performed at the Glastonbury Festival on the 25th of June, 2010. This mixed race artiste is garnering global acclaim by the hour. She has displayed a steely determination to be where she is today. Perhaps this comment made by a listener on YOUTUBE sums up my thoughts about Nneka Egbuna-
'' She is so special, So made of feelings...Her voice sounds like a fluttering flag on the top of a mountain, like the wind among the stars...or simply like a symphony..the blue harmony of sounds. ''
Where to find Nneka on the web: twitter.com/nnekaworld, www.myspace.com/nnekaworld, www.facebook.com/nneka.egbuna, www.nnekaworld.com
Sources: www.nnekaworld.com, www.comelime.com, Wikipedia, RV.